Losing weight the right way, by combining a healthy eating plan with consistent exercise, may take more time and dedication, but the extra effort is worth it. You’re more inclined to keep the weight off because you’ve picked up healthy habits. Still, despite your new-found dedication to exercising, that doesn’t mean you don’t want to maximize the weight-loss benefits you receive by choosing the most effective exercise for burning calories.
All About Calories
Losing body fat occurs whenever you burn a greater number of calories than you take in from the food you eat and the fluids you drink. This caloric deficit forces your body to break down the fat you have stored on your body to use as fuel. Every 3,500 more calories you burn means bye-bye to one single pound of fat. There are two areas of calorie burning you should keep in mind when looking to lose weight -- the calories you burn while you’re actually exercising and the calories you burn while you’re at rest.
Get to Sweating
Cardiovascular activities are the most effective for burning the most calories in a set period of time. But, not all are created equal. The activities that burn the most calories per minute, according to the Mayo Clinic, include running, rollerblading and jumping rope. All three of these activities require heavy activity from your legs, which is often an indication of how many calories an exercise will burn. During a one-hour workout, a 160-pound person will burn about 606 calories running at 5 mph, 548 calories rollerblading and 861 calories jumping rope. These numbers are significantly higher than exercises like bicycling and weight training, which in an hour burn just 292 calories and 365 calories, respectively.
Pick up the Weights
While weight training won’t pack the biggest punch when it comes to burning a large number of calories while you’re actually pumping iron, consistently lifting weights will increase your resting metabolic rate. This means you’ll burn more calories throughout the rest of the day, even while you sleep, when you consistently participate in weight training. The actual number of calories depends on your genetics and the amount of muscle mass you have, but all of these extra calories you burn contribute to that caloric deficit needed to lose weight.
Interval training takes the moderate intensity of cardiovascular exercise and mixes in bouts of high-intensity activity. For example, sprint-jogs, which could feature jogging at a slow pace for a minute, followed by an all-out sprint for 10 seconds and then cycling back and forth between the two activities, would be an interval workout. Interval training has been shown to cause your metabolic rate to be elevated for hours after you’ve finished your exercise session. Dr. Len Kravitz notes that the high intensity forces your body to replenish energy stores, re-oxygenate blood, decrease body temperature and return your breathing and heart rates down to resting levels, all of which are processes that require calories to be used as fuel.
Looking at these effective calorie-burning activities, it appears that the most effective weight-loss exercise is a combination of cardiovascular exercise, to burn a significant number of calories in a short amount of time, with a higher-intensity activity like weight training or interval training to make positive impacts on your resting metabolic rate. As you make your workout schedule, keep in mind that cardiovascular exercise can be completed on back-to-back days, but you need to allow your muscles one to two days of rest in between weight-training and interval-training sessions.
Kim Nunley has been screenwriting and working as an online health and fitness writer since 2005. She’s had multiple short screenplays produced and her feature scripts have placed at the Austin Film Festival. Prior to writing full-time, she worked as a strength coach, athletic coach and college instructor. She holds a master's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton.