While running on the treadmill may burn the most calories per minute, it isn’t necessarily the best exercise to lose weight. For long-term weight-loss success, researchers at the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado found that you need to make any form of aerobic exercise a part of your daily routine. So instead of forcing yourself to run for miles even if you are miserable, find the activity that is most enjoyable for you.
When it comes to weight loss, you need to consume fewer calories than your body burns. This can be done through eating less, working out more or through a combination of the two. To lose weight, experts at the American Heart Association recommend that you get 60 to 90 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity most days of the week in addition to eating a calorically restricted diet. Examples of moderate to vigorous physical activity include brisk walking, water aerobics, jogging or running, swimming laps and tennis.
While different exercises challenge your body differently, the best exercise to lose weight is the one that you will do routinely, according to Dr. Timothy Church on the WebMD website. When it comes to losing weight, it is all about creating a caloric deficit. So select an exercise that you will do nearly every day without getting bored or injured. One way to avoid this is by doing cross training, which is a range of aerobic exercises. An example of cross training could be a weekly exercise program that features jogging, cycling and swimming.
Finding time to exercise most days of the week may be tough with your already jammed-packed schedule. But don’t worry; you don’t have to slave away for hours a day at the gym to get the number on the scale to drop. Instead, try to sneak in multiple short bouts of exercise throughout your day. Go for a short jog in the morning, grab a brisk walk over lunch and maybe squeeze in a bike ride in the evening and you’ll not only lose weight but also improve your overall fitness. In a study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and published in the “International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders,” individuals who performed multiple 10-minute bouts of exercise per day lost more weight than the group that exercised once a day for 20 to 40 minutes.
According to "Time" magazine, individuals who follow a calorically restricted diet in addition to daily physical activity have a higher rate of weight-loss success than those who simply add physical exercise. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean you have to starve yourself. In actuality, that may be counterproductive. According to a study published in “American Psychologist,” the majority of dieters who lost weight on a 1,200 calorie a day diet eventually regained all of the weight they lost. Instead, a few small adjustments to your diet can make all the difference. To find a rough estimate of how many calories you should eat a day to maintain your weight, multiply your current weight by 12. If you exercise three to five days a week, multiply your current weight by 15.5. To lose weight, try to eat 250 fewer calories each day.
- Real Simple: Busting 10 Diet Myths
- International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders: Prescribing Exercise In Multiple Short Bouts Versus One Continuous Bout: Effects On Adherence, Cardiorespiratory Fitness, And Weight Loss In Overweight Women
- American Heart Association: Population-Based Prevention of Obesity
- Weight Control Information Network: Physical Activity and Weight Control
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- WebMD.Com: Exercise to Lose Weight
- Time Magazine: Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin
Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.