It’s that age-old question, ‘what are the best exercises for weight loss?’. We have the answer, to an extent, but there are some VERY important notes we need to highlight to begin with…
Exercise Is Not A Magic Cure
Many people say weight loss involves 80% nutrition and 20% exercise. Whether that measurement is exactly right doesn’t really matter because the idea is correct. Nutrition is definitely the more important part of weight loss, and portion sizes are even more important. However, it’s best not to get caught up in logistics like that and approach weight loss and weight management as a lifestyle. That means not going near fad diets, and also avoiding food restriction.
Some simple changes you can make to day-to-day diet choices include switching from milky coffee to black coffee, stop taking sugar in your coffee or tea, and opting for fresh seasonal foods. If you eat a lot of refined carbs, cut back a bit on them and increase your fiber intake. That means more vegetables and a couple of fruits a day. And, on that note, remember to think about quality rather than quantity when choosing food. In season vegetables will have more nutrients than imported or less fresh vegetables, for example. In order to reduce your portion sizes, eat mindfully and slowly. That way you will know when you are full. If you eat too fast while distracted by conversation or television, you can often overeat without even realizing it.
Most Beneficial Exercises For Weight Loss
Before we move onto some of the best exercises for weight loss, it’s important to make something very clear. And that is, no one exercise is the best option for you to help you lose weight. The best and most successful way to lose weight and keep it off is by combining exercises. That will ensure you don’t get stuck repeating the same workout that just keeps getting easier. It also means you will challenge and trick your body into working harder by mixing things up, as well as ensuring you target all of your muscles and limbs with different exercises that focus on different areas.
Here are some of the best weight loss exercises, that work well in combination during the course of the week…
Weight loss doesn’t actually have to be complicated, and something as simple as walking can aid weight loss. It is also a sustainable form of exercise to maintain a healthy weight and a good fitness level. However, we do have some tips on how to make walking benefit you and actually help you shed some excess fat.
The first thing is, walk at a good pace. If you already walk a fair bit, or have a relatively good level of fitness, then you need to up your walking game in order for it to have any effect! Power walking is a very beneficial workout, and if you love walking or being outdoors, then it’s perfect for you! And while you’re at it, walk your dog too!
Try to find hills. Power walking up hills can actually be a high-intensity form of exercise. And if you can either walk for 10 or 15 minutes uphill and then another 15 minutes on the flat or back down, while your heart rate is already up, then that’s a very decent workout! The other option, depending on the terrain you have access to, is to use hills as intermittent training. Even if the hills are short, if you can walk up and down hills in your area, that’s another great form of weight loss exercise.
It’s simple, free, and if you love walking, it will be something you can look forward to, instead of forcing yourself to do it! The other great thing about it is you can fit it into your busy lifestyle. Walk to work instead of driving, for example, or walk your dog in the mornings before work, or in the evenings after work.
This next one is loved by some and hated by others! One thing is for sure though – those that get addicted to running believe there is nothing more enjoyable in the world. If running is for you, it’s one of the most basic, classic ways to keep your body in tip-top shape. It’s a 100% natural form of exercise that can’t be faked, and it takes the whole body working hard to achieve it.
Some tips for running – maintain good posture. If you are holding good posture, you’re allowing your body optimal breathing opportunity. If you are breathing properly, you can run for longer, achieving better results. If you are new to running, start with interval training – run for one minute, walk for 30 seconds, and increase the running as you improve and get fitter.
This can be an extremely high-intensity form of exercise that sheds fat and builds muscle. Again, it’s important to find hobbies you enjoy, so if you hate cycling, forget about it. If you love it, on the other hand, make time to hop on your bike more often. It’s also a handy form of exercise if you are a high-intensity exerciser but you’ve injured your foot or leg running, for example, cycling can be a great replacement exercise.
The best option for weight loss when cycling is to find hills. Practice your hill climbing and increase the pace, lengths and heights you climb. To avoid boredom, go exploring on your bike some weekends. Pack it in the car and head to a different area, or even join a cycling club to help keep yourself motivated.
RPM or spin classes at the gym are also great weight loss options if you’re more of an indoor person, or if you can’t get out in the cold, dark winter, or if live somewhere flat and want those hills!
People often believe weight training will pack on the body weight, bulk up the muscles and make you look like a body builder. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, weight training is one of the most beneficial (if not the most beneficial) form of exercise for fat loss and waistline reduction. Of course, weight training also tones the body and builds arm strength, but it does so much more than that. Lifting weights is a powerful fat burning workout that makes the body work overtime to repair and build muscles, which takes a lot of calories and energy. In other words, it uses fat as energy, and therefore gets rid of it!
However, there are things to bear in mind. If you’ve never tried weight training before, it might come as a shock to the system. It is important to begin with lighter weights while you train your body to cope with this tough form of exercise. The great thing about it, though, is that you can always increase the weights as you get stronger and fine-tune your technique. That means you won’t get stuck in a lull of repeating the same exercise to little benefit after the initial few weeks. Increasing your weights is the key to increasing strength and burning fat, so when you do have your technique right, try to challenge your body with heavier weights to really make your muscles work.
This is also a good time to remind you that losing fat doesn’t actually mean weight as such. It means blubbery bits and waistline, but, because muscle is heavy (and heavier than fat at that), then it may not mean weight as reflected on the bathroom scales! If you are a newbie when it comes to weight training, go to some classes or book some sessions in with a personal trainer, because technique is the most important thing when it comes to weightlifting, and if you do it wrong, it can actually be very dangerous. Your back and neck are most at risk of injury if you use the wrong technique, so it really is something to take very, very seriously.
When you think about the benefits of yoga, weight loss is probably not the first one that comes to mind. It does have a number of other benefits, from decreasing stress and calming the mind to improving circulation and respiratory function. Many people think this ancient practice is just about meditation and flexibility, but it can actually be extremely beneficial for weight loss and overall fitness. Unlike a number of other fitness and slimming fads, it is not torturous and is easy to stick to, which means it can help you maintain your new healthy lifestyle and keep the weight off long-term!
Yoga asanas (or poses performed in a sequence) fight stubborn fat stores, especially as you age, which is why practicing yoga can be so effective for weight loss. There are a number of reasons for that, including strength and muscle development, but also because it lowers stress levels, connects the mind and the body, and increases overall happiness. Less stress increases the body’s functionality and deepens sleep, which is also beneficial to weight loss. As well as that, by changing your mood and attitude, while making you more aware of your body, yoga exercises naturally encourage you to eat what you need to nourish your body, instead of craving that sugar fix to get you through the day!
Yoga uses your own body as weight, meaning you build strong, lean muscles all over, from your arms and core to your back and legs, increasing your metabolism and burning calories. And it’s not just vinyasa flow and power yoga that have been proven to aid weight loss. A US study found even restorative yoga had weight loss benefits, especially for people starting out particularly unhealthy, weak, overweight, or with high stress levels.
Combine Your Healthy Habits
But all you really need to know, despite all that, is a commonsense reality. And that is to live a generally healthy lifestyle. That means balance and a combination of healthy foods in appropriate portion sizes, and regular exercise. One of the best tips we can offer in relation to exercising for weight loss is not to start an unsustainable routine of over-exercising. What’s the point in shedding weight if you are just going to put it back on again? Weight loss should be a gradual process, and if you do lose weight by changing your lifestyle, it will be more sustainable. In other words, you are more likely to keep it off!
The next tip in relation to sustainable weight management is to find exercises you enjoy. Again, if you don’t enjoy your workout, and go to the gym for an hour of self-imposed torture, you are not likely to sustain it. However, by finding hobbies – whether that be hiking, running, swimming, dancing, yoga, or playing a sport, and by combining a few on different days so that you don’t get bored, keeping healthy will not be a chore, it will be part of your lifestyle.