Exercise is a key part of any weight-loss plan. The more calories you can burn while exercising, the faster you will be able to lose weight, but which type of exercise is best?
Generally speaking, the more physically demanding a form of exercise is, the more calories it will use up, but the actual number you consume will depend on a number of factors, chief among them being the amount of effort you decide to put in.
Swimming, for example, is a great all-round exercise and can be a highly efficient way of burning calories. If you swim up and down the length of your local pool as fast as you can manage and take limited amounts of rest in-between, you can use up to 800 calories per hour. If, however, you simply splash about and enjoy a more leisurely time at the pool, you’ll burn far fewer.
You can also burn up to 800 calories per hour while doing step aerobics or playing tennis but, once again, you will only achieve the maximum benefit if you push yourself hard.
The same is true of both cycling and rowing. If you increase the resistance (on a stationary bike or rowing machine) and pedal or row as hard and as fast as you can, you can burn up to 1,000 calories per hour. However, if you take it easy this figure will be far, far lower.
If you are unable to indulge in the most vigorous, calorie-burning forms of exercise, gentle physical activity will still have a positive effect on your health. Walking for one hour can burn up to 360 calories and therefore produces all the same health benefits as running for one mile. You can easily increase the number of calories you burn whilst walking by carrying small weights with you.
Ultimately, the best exercise for weight-loss is the one that you are most willing to do. It is far better to do something you enjoy for a few hours rather than endure something you hate for a few minutes if the amount of calories you burn off are the same.
After all, wouldn’t you rather dance around for an hour to use up 600 calories than spend almost as much time on a rowing machine to achieve the same result?
It’s important to remember that exercise will only assist with weight loss if you also control your diet. Increasing your level of exercise can also increase your appetite so you’ll need to be extremely disciplined if you want to make sure your weight falls as a result.
A common myth about exercise is that specific activities will allow you to lose weight from specific parts of your body. The most common example is the idea that doing sit-ups will reduce the amount of fat around your belly or that doing squats will help slim your thighs.
Although you can tone muscles in these areas and thus make them look or feel better as a result, any weight you lose will come from your entire body, not just one specific part. This means that an exercise which burns many calories will be of more use than one which burns fewer and focuses on a smaller area.
It’s also important to note that the more overweight you are, the more calories you will initially burn off as it is harder for your body to do the exercise. The slimmer you become, the easier it is for your body to do the exercise and so you may start burning fewer calories in the same workout. This can lead your weight loss to plateau. Don’t be disheartened by this, the simply remedy is to intensify your workout regime. Do this and you should start shifting the weight again.
Written by Dan Richard, a Sport and Gym enthusiast.