Some exercises, such as running and swimming, have certain advantages for people looking to lose weight. However, there is no single best type of exercise for weight loss. Different exercises will work better for different people.
In this article, we discuss six of the best exercises for weight loss and also provide other tips.
Typically, weight loss occurs when people increase physical activity and reduce the number of calories that they consume. Together, these changes can create a calorie deficit.
The amount of exercise necessary to lose weight will vary depending on people’s weight loss goals, as well as the type and intensity of exercise. Without adjusting their diet and reducing their calorie intake, people will require more physical exercise to lose weight.
No single type of exercise is best for weight loss. Some are generally more effective than others, but these will vary among individuals.
Running is a form of cardiovascular, or cardio, exercise. Running causes the heart and lungs to work harder. This extra work leads to the body burning energy that it has stored around the body, such as in fat cells.
If the body is burning more than it consumes in calories, this can, over time, lead to weight loss. Weight loss is not immediate and requires regular exercise over several weeks or months.
A 2015 review found that running was highly effective for weight loss.
Running is generally free, as most people can run in a park or on the street in their local area, and, other than sneakers, they do not require any equipment. Another advantage is that most people can run without extensive training.
It is also easy to alter the exercise intensity or duration to increase the benefits. For example, a person can start with a 10-minute run before building up to longer durations or distances. They can also make the exercise more intense by running more quickly or at an incline.
Walking has similar effects on the body to running, but it is a lower intensity form of exercise.
Although its lower intensity means that the body will burn fewer calories per minute, it has several advantages.
For instance, walking is easier to maintain over longer durations. Most people, including those with low fitness, are able to engage in walking, and it is possible to walk in many different environments.
Due to its low intensity, some people may go for long walks in the countryside or by the sea. Walking in pleasant locations will increase the enjoyment and motivation to exercise.
As walking is lower intensity, it may serve as a good starting point for many people attempting to be more active, as they can easily integrate it into their lives and set realistic goals.
Walking may also improve sleep, memory, and the ability to think and learn.
Cycling is another form of cardio that is effective for weight loss.
Cycling is generally more intense than walking, as it requires additional force from the legs to keep the pedals moving.
On a stationary bike, it is easy to change the resistance and increase the intensity of the workout. When cycling outdoors, it is possible to pedal faster or cycle uphill to increase the intensity.
Buying a low cost bicycle can keep the costs of cycling to a minimum. However, more expensive bicycles are sometimes helpful, such as when cycling off-road.
Some people use cycling as a mode of transport, which makes it easier to fit into a daily routine. For example, cycling 40 minutes to work and back is an excellent way to maintain regular exercise.
Resistance training can improve body composition by increasing the size and density of muscles around the body. It can also increase the resting metabolic rate.
The resting metabolic rate is how many calories the body burns at rest. Genetics and age are factors that have a significant influence on resting metabolic rate, but increasing muscle can also make a small difference.
Swimming is an excellent way to lose weight with a low risk of injury.
Swimming is primarily a form of cardio, but there is also natural resistance from the water. This resistance reduces the impact of swimming on the joints and lowers the risk of injury.
Swimming is suitable for people of all ages, and it is an exercise that people can do leisurely or vigorously. Research suggests that it can be one of the best forms of exercise for burning calories.
It might not be an option for everyone, though, as it does require being near a pool or body of water.
HIIT has recently come to the fore as a workout option alongside the more traditional forms of exercise. It is a type of exercise that involves cycles of short, high intensity bouts of activity. There are usually brief recovery periods between bouts.
A 2019 review in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that HIIT was at least as effective as traditional forms of exercise for fat loss. Traditional forms of exercise might include running for 30 minutes.
HIIT sessions are challenging. A common method involves alternating between 4 minutes of high intensity exercise and 3 minutes of recovery.
Most people will be unable to lose weight without changing their diet. Generally, it is necessary for a person to burn more calories than they consume.
The ideal calorie intake will depend on the person. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute suggest that women should aim for 1,200–1,500 calories to lose weight safely. Men should be getting 1,500–1,800.
It is important to maintain a healthful diet when reducing calorie intake.
Another tip is to choose exercises that are enjoyable, which will vary from person to person. People might need to experiment to determine their preferences. Enjoying the exercise will help a person incorporate it as a regular part of their weekly routine.
Being patient is also essential. Weight loss can take time, particularly for some people. Sticking with a regular exercise plan and a healthful diet will eventually lead to weight loss, though.
Some people might benefit from support. They may wish to hire a personal trainer to increase motivation at the gym. Alternatively, family members and friends can provide encouragement.
Many factors other than exercise affect weight loss, including:
- local area
- race or ethnicity
- family environment
- some medications, such as antipsychotics
There are no single best exercises for weight loss, but some have advantages that might appeal to certain people. For example, running and walking are generally free and easy to start.
Exercise is an important part of weight loss. However, other factors, such as diet and sleep, also play a role.