How to Exercise for Weight Loss

health and wellness

The reason why most people work out is to lose weight. Some people do it to help them maintain an ideal weight. Regular exercise has many other health benefits.

To lose weight, you have to burn more calories than what you are eating. So, if you are trying to lose weight by exercising, but your calorie intake is too high, you won’t lose weight.

With that said, there are specific exercises that speed up your metabolism. All exercise speeds up your metabolism. But how much, and for how long?

If you are walking for 5 minutes each day, you will burn a significantly lower number of calories than if you were walking for 30 minutes a day. If you are running for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, you will burn a substantial number of calories more than if you were walking for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.

In this post, I am going to discuss different exercise regimens and how they affect weight loss. I will help you to maximize the results you get from exercising. I will also talk briefly about your nutritional needs while you are exercising regularly. You will understand how to exercise for weight loss.

Cardio Exercisewoman and man jogging

Cardio exercises include things like jogging, speed walking, doing aerobics, swimming, riding a bike, etc… These exercises are all aerobic.

Aerobics is defined as a system of physical conditioning involving exercises (such as running, swimming, speed walking, and doing aerobics). Exercises done to cause an increase in respiration and heart rate, are aerobics. The word, “aerobic” simply means, “with oxygen”.

The American Heart Association recommends that adults perform aerobic activity for 30 minutes 5-7 days a week. Not just adults who are over-weight. All adults.

In addition to losing weight, cardiovascular exercises have the following benefits:

  • Provide cardiovascular conditioning
  • Decreases the risk of heart disease
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Increases the “good” cholesterol
  • helps to regulate the blood sugar
  • Improves the functioning of the respiratory system

I exercise regularly. It makes me feel energized and strong. Regular exercise makes me FEEL healthy, not just be healthy.  One of the reasons I exercise is to maintain a healthy weight.

Before starting any exercise program, check with your doctor to see if you have any medical limitations on the types of exercise you can do.

Which Cardio Exercises are Best?

Exercise in any form or fashion is good exercise. If you want to see results (weight loss), then you have to make an exercise schedule and stick to it. It must include a combination of cardiovascular exercise and strength training.

If you have any type of problems with your joints (knees, ankles, hips, etc…), then you will need to make sure you aren’twomen working out doing high-impact exercises (running, jumping rope, high impact aerobics routines, etc…). You can do low-impact exercises (swimming, cycling, using an elliptical trainer, fast-walking, rowing, low-impact aerobics routines, etc…).

Impact is not the same as intensity. Intensity is how hard you are working. Impact is the amount of force that you are putting on your body with each movement. You can cycle at a very high speed (high-intensity), but still, be doing low-impact.

The higher the intensity of your workout, the more calories you will burn. You will also continue to burn calories for longer, after your workout, than if you exercised at a low intensity.

Cardio, or aerobic, exercises can be done every day. If you have been living a sedentary lifestyle, then start slow. You can speed walk for 10 minutes 3 times a day, and you will get the same benefits as if you speed walk for 30 minutes without stopping. You will burn the same number of calories. So, start slow, but start.

I do 60-70 minutes of cardio exercise 5-6 days a week. This includes 3-5 minutes for warm-up and 5-10 minutes for cool down and stretching exercises.

Mainly, I do dance aerobics. I love doing it and that is a big plus. So, find something you like doing.

YouTube offers many different videos of cardio fitness routines. You could find videos that teach step aerobics and follow along. Or you can find videos that do Zumba. Zumba is a Latin-dance type of fitness that is popular.

YouTube has thousands of instructor-led cardio routines. Search for exercises that can be fun.

Remember to do a 5–10-minute warm-up before starting any cardio routine. And include 5-10 minutes of cool down and stretching exercises.

Strength Training to Aid in Weight Loss

Adding some strength training into your workout will significantly increase the number of calories you burn. You can do as little as 5-10-minutes of strength training a day if you are just starting.

I do just 20-30 minutes of strength training every day, in addition to the cardio I do. I have increased the amount of weight I work with over time. Our muscles get stronger when we progressively take them out of their comfort zone and challenge them.

When the amount of weight you are working with seems like it is getting lighter, it’s time to increase the amount of weight that you are working with.

It is important to give your muscles 48 hours to recover after working them. They need this time to repair the little tears they get when we work them. When the muscle repairs these tiny tears, the muscle grows back stronger.

If you do bicep curls on Tuesday, you wouldn’t do them again until Thursday.   people working out

Strength training or resistance training (using resistance bands instead of weights) helps to boost your metabolism, increase muscle mass, and promote fat loss. You will burn more calories doing cardio than you will doing strength training. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do strength training.

Strength training is more effective than cardio at building muscle. Muscle burns more calories at rest than other tissues (including fat). Also, weight training causes an afterburn. You will continue to burn calories after weight training. Not so much with cardio.

Building muscle is important because it increases how many calories your body burns while at rest. Research shows that a person burns more calories in the hours following a strength training session than they burn in the hours following a cardio session.

Studies prove that strength training is known to cause a person’s metabolism to be increased for as long as 38 hours post-workout.

So, a combination of cardio and strength training will give you the best chance of losing weight. The American Heart Association says that every adult should engage in strength training exercises twice a week.

I say, every adult that is trying to lose weight should engage in strength training exercises, in addition to cardio exercises, 3-5 times a week. But don’t forget to give each muscle the 48hours of recovery that it needs before working it again.

With strength training, focus on the major muscle groups (quadriceps, hamstrings, inner thigh, outer thigh, chest, back, biceps, triceps, and shoulders)  You could do squats and lunges with or without holding weights. You’ll want to increase the number of squats and lunges you do as time goes on and your muscles grow stronger.

The amount of weight you use depends on where you are starting at. Women will use less weight than men. Men have much stronger upper body strength than women. Start with 3-5lb weights for your shoulders (women). If you can perform more than 15 reps without feeling any burn, then the weight is too low. Same with biceps and triceps except you will start with 5-10 lbs. three people working out

Working each muscle for 12-15 reps, doing 1-3 sets of each exercise is ideal. If you are a beginner start with one set. Do one set of 12-15 reps on each muscle you are working on. As you become stronger, do additional sets of 12-15 reps.

Since you need to give your muscles 48 hours of recovery, you could work your arms, chest, and back on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Then, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays you could work your legs.

You can do abdominal crunches every day. Abdominals don’t need time to recover.

If you are interested in buying some hand-weights/dumbbells, I recommend these. You can adjust the amount of lbs., and they come with a long bar so you could hold it across your shoulders while doing squats and lunges.

Music plays a big part in motivation. Playing upbeat music while you are working out will help tremendously in motivating you. Get yourself a good Bluetooth speaker, or a pair of Bluetooth earbuds. If you are following a YouTube video, then you don’t need to find music to play.

Replace Diets with Healthy Lifestyle Changes

There are specific rules I have set for myself when it comes to the foods I eat and the beverages I drink. I have never been one to stick to a diet. Diets are a temporary fix.

Make sure you are getting a well-balanced diet, by focusing on nutrition. Nutrition plays a big part in the results you get from exercise.

Most diets fail and cause the dieter to gain back more weight. Focusing on healthy lifestyle changes is what works for me. It is what works for most people who are successfully maintaining a healthy, desirable weight.

Making healthy lifestyle changes can work for you, too. You don’t have to change everything at once. These changes should be small subtle changes that, over time, will prove effective for long-term weight loss. Weight loss that will last a lifetime.

all things health and fitness with man in the middle

So, what do I mean about lifestyle changes? A few of the lifestyle changes that I have made over time include:

  • I stopped drinking my calories. Sipping on sodas, sweet tea, and coffee with sugar in it throughout the day will cause a person to keep those extra pounds on. If you drink beverages throughout the day that are high in sugar, consider trading them for sugar-free alternatives. I use Splenda in my coffee. Some will say that Splenda is bad for me.  So is being fat, so I’ll take my chances with the Splenda.
  • I began drinking more water. I started with 2-3 bottles of water a day. Then gradually increased the amount. Now I am drinking 6-8 8oz of water a day and sometimes a little more. Our bodies need water to transport nutrients to where they need to go, and to help carry toxins (including fat) out of our bodies. Water can also curb your appetite. Instead of eating cookies, drink a glass of water. You will notice that the craving for cookies subsides a little.
  • I do not eat unless I am hungry. This has made a significant difference for me. Some food tastes so good that we don’t want to pass it up. But, as you begin to resist the temptation to eat when you are not hungry, it becomes easier and easier. Before you take another bite of food, ask yourself if you are really hungry. Emotional eating is responsible for much of the extra weight that people carry around.
  • I don’t eat within 3 hours of going to bed. Our metabolisms slow down when we sleep. I wake up a little hungry every day, but morning is the best time to eat. You’ll have all day to burn the calories. If you are exercising regularly, you will burn many calories.

Just making those small changes has helped me to lose weight. Remember, start slowly. These changes work overtime. So, give yourself a chance.

Nutrition is Importantfruits and veggies spelling eat right

There are other opportunities to lose weight through dietary changes. I didn’t say, “diets”. I said “dietary changes”. This includes choosing a well-balanced diet.

Make sure you are choosing lean proteins like fish, chicken, eggs, lentils, etc.

Choose healthy fats like the fat found in avocados and peanut butter.

Include fresh vegetables. Vegetables like spinach, broccoli, squash, and kale are great choices. Remember that cooking your vegetables causes them to lose some, if not all, of their nutrients. Lightly steaming them can prove to be tasty and nutritious. Eating them raw is even better.

Limit your complex carbs like pasta, breads, and high-sugar cereals. Eat small portions of these. The idea is to get most of your calories from proteins and vegetables.

Choose healthy snacks instead of candy, and other sweets (cakes, cookies). You don’t have to eliminate candy, cakes, and cookies completely. Reward yourself once a week with a dessert.

Nobody likes to diet. You don’t have to. Just make good conscious choices and begin making lifestyle changes. Over time you will notice a decrease in how much you weigh. You will also notice a difference in the way you think about food. I think about food as a way for my body to get fuel. It IS the way my body gets fuel.

Something I almost forgot to mention is to limit alcoholic beverages. They are loaded with empty calories. Empty calories are those things that are high in calories but have little to no nutritional benefit. If you can cut the empty-calorie foods out of your diet, then you should.

Give Yourself a Chance

Many people have been struggling to lose weight for quite some time. I used to be one of them. I made some lifestyle changes (including exercising regularly) and over time I have been able to lose weight. I’m almost where I want to be. They say the last 5 lbs. is the hardest to lose. It sure is.

Combining strength training and cardio exercises is the best way to lose weight. Remember to start slow. Even just 10 minutes a day of cardio and a few minutes of strength training is better than no exercise. You got to start somewhere. Don’t wait until it gets even harder to start.

Right now, you may have no energy and just the thought of exercising is taxing. bunch of people being active

The longer you keep telling yourself that you will start on Monday, the harder it will be to get started and the more damage your body will incur.  Don’t start on Monday. Start TODAY. I know that you tell yourself that you will start on Monday because I used to do the same thing.

I went almost 2 years without exercising. It wasn’t easy for me to get back into working out regularly. And I have been in the health and fitness industry for about 30 years. So, I knew the damage it was doing to my body and I knew the benefits I’d get from working out, but it still took me too long to start exercising again. So, I know it can be hard to start.

Now, I have energy, I’m no longer unhappy with my weight, and I FEEL healthy. I look forward to my workouts. They are fun. I enjoy doing dance fitness, Zumba, and LaBlast (forms of dance fitness).

I don’t particularly enjoy strength training. But, I do it because I know and am experiencing the benefits.

Find a cardio exercise that you like. You could invest in a treadmill or a stationary bike. Many of them include the ability to sign up for live (on a built-in screen) coaching sessions. This could prove to be a fun way to exercise.

Or, as I mentioned earlier, you could find YouTube videos of instructor-led cardio routines. It was a bit difficult for me to learn some of the dances that I now follow. But, I gave myself a chance to learn as I went along and I am so glad that I did.

No matter how long it’s been since you’ve exercised. Or maybe you have never exercised. Regardless, you now know what it will take for you to start losing some weight. You also know how to keep the weight off. So, love yourself. Love yourself enough to get in shape. I’m not looking for the next Jillian Michaels. I just want you to give yourself a chance.

Commit yourself. If you haven’t been active in a year or more, it might be a good idea for you to start with a vibration plate. This will help you to gain some strength and endurance before working out.

If you are reading this, then you KNOW that you need to start exercising. Take a deep breath and start. Just start…

If you have any questions or comments please leave them in the comments section below.


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