All aerobic exercises burn fat but some are more efficient than others. These exercises are often more challenging and involve the use of more of your muscles. Still, the amount of fat you actually burn while working out, despite which exercise you choose, will be determined by how hard you work.
Running, whether on the ground or on a treadmill, is the best exercise option for burning fat. The Mayo Clinic estimates that a 160-pound person running at 8 miles per hour burns an average of 861 calories. A study published in the May 1996 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) also found that running on treadmill burns more calories than exercising on any other gym machine when participants work at the same levels of perceived exertion. Running is also economical because it requires nothing more than well-cushioned running shoes.
Jumping rope is an effective alternative to running for fat burning. The Mayo Clinic estimates that a 160-pound person burns 861 calories jumping rope. That’s the same amount of calorie burn as running at 6 miles an hour. Rope jumping is also an economic exercise mode because you can often buy skipping ropes for only a few dollars. You can also skip rope anywhere, including the gym, outdoors or even in your own living room.
Interval training can increase your fat burning long after you have finished exercising. Researchers say the men they studied burned an additional 200 calories in the 24 hours following their workout. You’ll also increase the amount of calories you burn in the time you are exercising because you are working more intensely. Interval training consists of doing short spurts of very intensive exercise approximately 30 to 60 seconds, followed by recovery periods of one to two minutes and then repeated for several intervals. Interval training, however, can be quite demanding and is not recommended for new or beginner exercisers.
If you prefer to use exercise machines for aerobic exercise, the elliptical trainer can be as effective as a treadmill. A study published in the June 2010 issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research concluded that elliptical trainers burn approximately the same amount of calories as treadmills when participants worked at the same rate of perceived exertion. While ellipticals are less economical because they require joining a gym or buying an expensive personal machine to use, they are a great option for those with joint issues because they are less stressful on your knees, hips and back than running on a treadmill.
Fitness Classes and Boot Camps
Bootcamps and fitness classes can be a more social way to exercise, stay motivated and burn fat. The American Council on Exercise notes that a typical boot camp workout can burn approximately 600 calories per hour. Many boot camps also incorporate strength training, which will help build your muscle mass. Increasing the amount of muscle you have actually increases the amount of calories you burn, even at rest. If you like the idea of fitness classes but don’t want to join a group, you can find a variety of DVDs that offer a mix of cardio and strength training exercises.
- Mayo Clinic: Exercise for Weight Loss: Calories Burned in 1 Hour
- Journal of the American Medical Association: Energy Expenditure with Indoor Exercise Machines; Anne I. Zeni, et al.
- Medline Plus: Short Bursts of Intense Exercise Can Fight Weight Gain: Study
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Comparison of Energy Expenditure on a Treadmill vs. an Elliptical Device at a Self-Selected …; G.A. Brown, et al.
- Mayo Clinic: Are Elliptical Machines Better than Treadmills for Basic Aerobic Workouts?
- American Council on Exercise: Drop and Give Me 20!
- American College of Sports Medicine: Obesity and Exercise
Andrea Chrysanthou began writing professionally in 1993. Her work has been published internationally by "The Cyprus Mail," MochaSofa and My Favorite Trainer, among other magazines and websites. She holds a Bachelor of Applied Arts in journalism from Ryerson University. Chrysanthou is a certified fitness instructor and personal-training specialist with more than 10 years of experience in the fitness industry.