If you're gunning for the perfect bikini body or trying to fit into a gorgeous dress, it's easy to get caught up measuring every ounce you lose. The Mayo Clinic advises that many people need as many as 300 minutes of exercise each week to lose weight, and an hour of exercise each day pushes you past this challenging recommendation. The number of pounds you can shed will depend on your specific exercise routine, your diet and your muscle mass.
Aerobic exercise makes you breathe more rapidly to supply oxygen to your blood, and -- because aerobics also work your heart -- aerobic exercise is sometimes called cardiovascular exercise. Cardio is the most effective method for losing weight because it works large groups of muscles, which means you'll burn more calories more quickly. Although you'll burn some calories doing crunches or lifting weights, you can't target one specific area of your body for weight loss, which means cardio is the ticket if you're hoping to shed fat. You'll need to burn 3,500 calories for every pound you want to lose, and you can increase your weight loss if you cut calories and exercise.
Your body weight plays a big role in how many calories you burn. Larger people require more energy to move their bodies, so bigger people tend to burn more calories. People with high muscle mass can burn even more calories, because muscle burns more calories than fat. For example, Harvard Health Publications reports that a 125-pound person will burn about 240 calories doing an hour of water aerobics, while a 185-pound person will burn about 356 calories in the same time. This amounts to about a pound of weight loss every two weeks if you're not dieting and if you exercise seven days per week.
You can increase the number of calories you burn by doing more intense forms of exercise. Walking 3.5 mph will burn about 240 calories an hour in a 125-pound person, but increasing your speed to a brisk walk or jog can up your caloric burn to about 360 calories an hour for a 125-pound person. Interval training can also help you burn more calories. Try doing brief bursts of high-intensity activity. For example, walk for two to three minutes, sprint for a minute and alternate your speed throughout your workout. Adding weights to your routine and doing more challenging versions -- such as walking uphill or running with the dog -- can also rev up your workout's intensity.
Increasing Weight Loss
Increase the amount of weight you lose by dieting alongside your workout routine. Cutting two sodas from your diet each day, for example, can trim 2,100 calories each week -- almost enough to lose a pound. Becoming more active can also help you burn more calories. Try taking a five-minute break to walk around your office several times each day, or park farther away from stores rather than trying to get the closest parking spot.
- MayoClinic.com: Exercise for Weight Loss -- Calories Burned in 1 Hour
- Harvard Health Publications: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights
- CalorieLab: Soda Pop and Sports Drinks
- High Intensity Interval Training Explained; James Driver
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.