Shed Pounds Fast: The 8 Best Exercises for Weight Loss

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Engaging in various physical activities can help with weight loss by burning more calories. However, the actual amount of weight you may lose is subject to different variables such as age, diet, and initial weight.

Roughly 50% of American adults try to lose weight annually. Exercise is a popular weight loss method besides dieting, as it burns calories and contributes significantly to shedding extra pounds.

Apart from helping with weight loss, exercise also offers countless benefits like boosting mood, enhancing bone strength, and reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

Let’s shed the extra pounds.

Best Exercises for Weight Loss

1. Walking

Walking is an excellent exercise for weight loss, due to many factors. It’s a simple and convenient way for beginners to start working out without feeling intimidated or requiring any equipment. Moreover, it’s a low-impact activity that doesn’t strain your joints.

Harvard Health states that an individual weighing 155 pounds (70 kg) can burn approximately 175 calories by walking at a moderate pace of 4 mph (6.4 km/h) for 30 minutes.

In a 12-week study involving 20 obese women, walking for 50-70 minutes 3 times a week resulted in an average reduction of 1.5% in body fat and 1.1 inches (2.8 cm) in waist circumference.

Incorporating walking into your daily routine is simple. You can add extra steps to your day by walking during your lunch break, using the stairs at work, or taking your dog for additional walks.

To begin with walking, aim to walk for 30 minutes, 3-4 times per week. Gradually increase the duration or frequency of your walks as your fitness level improves.

2. Jogging or Running

Jogging and running are both excellent exercises for weight loss. Although they might seem similar, the main difference is that jogging typically ranges between 4-6 mph (6.4-9.7 km/h), while running is faster than 6 mph (9.7 km/h).

According to Harvard Health, a person weighing 155 pounds (70 kg) can burn about 288 calories in 30 minutes of jogging at a pace of 5 mph (8 km/h) or 360 calories in 30 minutes of running at a 6 mph (9.7 km/h) pace.

Research shows that jogging and running can help reduce visceral fat, also known as belly fat, which wraps around your internal organs and is associated with chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

Both jogging and running are great exercises that can be done anywhere and are easy to incorporate into your weekly routine. To get started, aim to jog for 20–30 minutes 3 or 4 times per week.

If outdoor jogging or running is hard on your joints, consider running on softer surfaces like grass. Additionally, many treadmills have built-in cushioning, which can be gentler on your joints.

3. Cycling

Cycling is a popular exercise that enhances your physical fitness and supports weight loss. While cycling is typically an outdoor activity, many fitness centers and gyms offer stationary bikes for indoor cycling.

Harvard Health has estimated that a person weighing 155 pounds (70 kg) can burn approximately 252 calories in 30 minutes of cycling on a stationary bike at a moderate pace. Cycling on a bicycle at a moderate pace of 12-13.9 mph (19-22.4 km/h) can burn around 288 calories per 30 minutes.

Cycling is not only an effective exercise for weight loss, but it also offers several health benefits. Studies indicate that people who cycle regularly tend to have better fitness levels, increased insulin sensitivity, and a lower risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and death when compared to those who do not cycle regularly.

Cycling is an exercise suitable for individuals with varying levels of fitness, including beginners and athletes. Moreover, it is a low-impact activity that doesn’t put excessive strain on your joints as it is a non-weight-bearing exercise.

4. Weight training

Weight training is another popular option for individuals that are looking for exercises to lose weight.

Harvard Health states that a person weighing 155 pounds (70 kg) can burn approximately 108 calories in 30 minutes of weight training.

In addition, weight training can also help in building strength and increasing muscle mass, which in turn can boost your resting metabolic rate (RMR). This means that your body can burn more calories even when you’re at rest.

A study conducted over six months found that performing strength-based exercises for just 11 minutes, three times a week, resulted in an average increase of 7.4% in metabolic rate. This increase is equivalent to burning an additional 125 calories per day.

A different study discovered that after 24 weeks of weight training, men experienced a 9% increase in their metabolic rate, which resulted in burning roughly 140 extra calories each day. Meanwhile, women showed an increase in metabolic rate of nearly 4%, which equated to burning approximately 50 more calories per day.

Furthermore, research indicates that weight training can result in an “afterburn” effect, where your body continues to burn calories at an elevated rate for several hours after a weight-training session, unlike aerobic exercise.

5. Interval training

Interval training, also known as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), involves short periods of intense exercise alternated with recovery periods.

A typical HIIT workout can last between 10 to 30 minutes and has the potential to burn a significant number of calories.

One study of 9 active men showed that high intensity interval training (HIIT) burns 25-30% more calories per minute compared to other types of exercises like weight training, cycling, and running on a treadmill.

This shows that HIIT allows you to burn a higher number of calories within a shorter duration of exercise.

Additionally, research has found that HIIT is particularly efficient at targeting visceral fat, which is associated with several chronic health conditions.

You can easily include HIIT in your workout routine by selecting a physical activity, such as cycling, jumping, or running. All you have to do is to adjust your workout times and resting times.

An example for this would be to cycle at your maximum effort for 30 seconds, then cycle slowly for 1-2 minutes. This pattern is repeated for 10-30 minutes.

6. Swimming

Swimming can be an enjoyable exercises of achieving weight loss and improving fitness.

Based on an estimate by Harvard Health, a person weighing 155 pounds (70 kg) may burn around 216 calories during a 30-minute swimming session.

The way you swim can impact the number of calories you burn. A study conducted on competitive swimmers revealed that the breaststroke burned the most calories, followed by the butterfly, backstroke, and freestyle strokes.

In a study involving 24 middle-aged women over a period of 12 weeks, swimming for an 1 hour, 3-times a week resulted in a significant reduction in body fat, improved flexibility, and decreased several risk factors for heart disease, such as high levels of total cholesterol and blood triglycerides.

Swimming is a low-impact exercise that is gentle on the joints, making it an excellent choice for individuals who experience joint pain or injuries.

7. Yoga

Yoga is a widely known type of physical exercise that also promotes mental and emotional well-being by reducing stress levels.

Although not typically the go-to exercise for weight loss, yoga can still help burn a significant amount of calories and provide various health benefits that can help with weight loss.

According to Harvard Health, a person who weighs 155 pounds (70 kg) can burn roughly 144 calories by practicing yoga for 30 minutes.

In a study that lasted over 12 weeks, 60 women with obesity were divided into two groups, one of which participated in two 90-minute yoga sessions per week while the other served as the control group. The results showed that the group that practiced yoga experienced greater reduction in waist circumference compared to the control group, with an average reduction of 1.5 inches (3.8 cm).

Additionally, the group that was practicing yoga claimed to have experienced improved emotional and physical wellness.

Apart from its calorie-burning benefits, research has shown that yoga can teach mindfulness and at the same time lower stress levels.

You can find yoga classes at most gyms and training centers, but practicing yoga is not limited to a gym setting. You can easily practice yoga in the comfort of your own home by following online tutorials that are widely available.

8. Pilates

Pilates is a beginner-friendly exercise that can help everyone with weight loss.

According to a study supported by the American Council on Exercise indicated that a 30 minute beginner’s Pilates class would burn around 108 calories for someone weighing 140 pounds (64 kg), while an advanced class of the same duration would burn approximately 168 calories.

While Pilates may not offer the same calorie-burning benefits as high-intensity aerobic exercises, such as running, it can be an enjoyable form of exercise that people are more likely to stick to over time.

In a study that lasted over 8 weeks, 37 middle-aged women who performed Pilates exercises for 90 minutes, three times a week showed a significant reduction in waist, stomach, and hip circumference compared to a control group that did not exercise during the same period.

Apart from helping with weight loss, Pilates has the potential to reduce lower back pain and enhance strength, balance, flexibility, endurance, and overall fitness level.

f you’re interested in trying Pilates, consider adding it to your weekly schedule. Pilates can be done in the comfort of your own home or in a gym that offers Pilates classes.

If you want to maximize weight loss benefits from Pilates, consider incorporating it into a holistic wellness routine that includes a healthy diet and other exercises like weight training or cardio.

9. How much weight loss can you expect to lose?

There are several factors that determine how much weight you can realistically expect to lose through exercise.

Some of these factors are:

  • Initial weight. Individuals who start with a higher weight generally have a higher basal metabolic rate (BMR), which refers to the number of calories the body burns while performing basic life-preserving functions. A higher BMR translates to burning more calories during both physical activity and rest.
  • Age. As people age, they generally have a higher percentage of body fat and lower muscle mass, which can lead to a lower basal metabolic rate (BMR) and make weight loss more challenging.
  • Gender. Women generally have a higher fat-to-muscle ratio than men, which can have an impact on their basal metabolic rate. This means that men often lose weight faster than women, even if both sexes consume the same amount of calories.
  • Diet. To lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit by burning more calories than you consume.
  • Sleep. A study has shown that inadequate sleep can hinder weight loss progress by slowing down the rate at which calories are burned and by increasing the desire to eat high calorie foods.
  • Medical conditions. Individuals who have medical conditions such as depression and hypothyroidism may experience a slower rate of weight loss.
  • Genetics. Studies indicate that genetic factors can play a role in weight loss and may impact individuals with obesity.

One to two pounds (0.5-1.36 kg), or roughly 1% of your body weight per week, is the recommended weight loss rate by experts, even though many people desire to lose weight rapidly.

Rapid weight loss can have negative effects on your health. It can cause muscle loss, and increase the risk of conditions such as dehydration, fatigue, malnutrition, headaches, irritability, constipation, hair loss, irregular periods, and even gallstones.

Additionally, individuals who lose weight too quickly are more susceptible to regaining the weight according to NHS.

Weight loss is not a straightforward process and it’s common to experience faster weight loss in the initial stages of a weight loss program.

10. Conclusion

Walking, jogging, running, cycling, swimming, weight training, interval training, yoga, and Pilates are some excellent options for burning calories and helping with weight loss.

Although, there are many other exercises that can also be effective in achieving this.

The key factor when choosing an exercise for weight loss is finding one that you enjoy doing. By selecting an exercise that you find enjoyable, you are more likely to stick with it long term, which will increase the likelihood of seeing results.

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