You want to lose weight, but a half hour each day is all you have to devote to the cause. Never fear -- 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise each day is plenty of time to burn some calories and get you on the road to weight loss. That said, how and what you do in that 30 minutes is going to make a difference. And if you're really serious about burning fat, you're going to have to make some adjustments in the other 23.5 hours of your day as well.
In order to burn the fat that is going to help you lose weight, you have to burn calories. The good news is, any activity that gets your body moving is going to help you burn calories. In order to lose 1 pound, you need to burn 3,500 calories more than you consume. Some people do this through exercise alone, but people are typically more successful with a combination of diet changes and exercise.
The number of calories you burn during any given exercise is going to vary, depending on your body size, gender and age. However, some exercises burn more calories than others, since they require more intensity to perform. Exercises such as running, high-impact aerobics and jumping rope burn a lot more calories than walking, ballroom dancing or low-impact aerobics.
If you really want to maximize your 30 minutes of exercise each day, choose the exercises that are going to burn the most calories. If you're not ready to give up your daily walk or that ballroom dancing class in exchange for fast running or a spin class, you could just increase the intensity of your current exercise. Instead of walking your usual route around the neighborhood, choose a hilly area that includes some outdoor stairs, or start alternating between jogging and walking. If you like your dance routine, pick faster music to make you dance faster. Whatever you're doing, find a way to make it tougher to do.
If you really want to get serious about losing fat, you're going to need to include diet changes as well as exercise. Among a group of dieters registered with the National Weight Control Registry, only about 1 percent had success losing weight with exercise alone, according to the American Council on Exercise. Look for ways you can cut calories throughout your day, such as cutting out sodas, sweets or snacks. Get methodical about your weight loss plan. Say you're burning about 250 calories by inline skating 30 minutes a day. By shaving another 250 calories through diet, you'll be creating a 500-calorie deficit -- which means you could lose about 1 pound a week.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.