People often wonder what types of exercise they can do to burn calories and tone muscle. The surprising but encouraging answer is that all types of exercise can do those two things if they are used correctly. Three categories of activity that can help you burn calories and tone muscle are aerobic exercise, weight training and cross-training.
Aerobic exercise is activity that increases your body’s need for oxygen, and therefore increases your rate of breathing to fulfill this increased need. This type of exercise is longer in duration, but does not completely drain your body with its intensity. Examples of aerobic exercise include swimming, cycling and jogging. Aerobic exercise has several health benefits including burning fat, boosting metabolism, maintaining weight and building muscle.
As opposed to aerobic exercise, weight training is anaerobic, which means without air. With weight training, you are using too much oxygen for your body to replenish right away. It involves activities that require short bursts of energy. There are a variety of machines and free weights that you can use to do weight training. While some calories are burned during weight training, more can be burned for hours or even days after a workout. This is because weight training increases the body’s muscle fibers and muscle fibers burn more calories than fat.
One of the best ways to burn calories and tone muscle is cross-training. The idea behind cross-training is that changing up your exercise routine can offer fresh challenges for your mind and body. You can mix up a variety of aerobic exercises with strength training to increase your overall fitness and bust through any plateaus or any lingering thoughts of boredom. Your muscles can get used to doing the same exercises over and over again, so mixing it up can improve the results of your workout.
A Balanced Approach
Anytime you want to burn calories and tone muscle, you need to have a balanced approach. Besides coming up with a workout routine using a variety of exercises, you need to accompany it with stretching and a healthy diet. Stretching can protect you from injury and enhance your performance during exercise. While exercise by itself can burn calories and tone muscle, if you want optimal results you should add stretching and focus on complete nutrition.
For optimal health benefits and weight management, aim to engage in moderate aerobic activity for 150 minutes per week. If you want to increase the intensity of your workouts you can do 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic exercise, according MayoClinic.com. You should spread aerobic exercises throughout the week, rather than trying to fit the suggested amount in during one or two sessions. Strength training should also be incorporated every week. Aim for two strength training sessions per week lasting approximately 20 to 30 minutes each.
Danielle Clark has been a writer since 2009, specializing in environmental and health and fitness topics. She has contributed to magazines and several online publications. Clark holds a Bachelor of Science in ecology and environmental science.