The media is chock-full of stories about how obesity and resulting healthcare costs are both skyrocketing. Losing weight is a top to-do list item for nearly half of the population worldwide. Losing weight is good for our health and self-esteem. It takes dedication, a focus on nutrition, and a good amount of physical exercise.
The best activities for losing weight get your heart pumping. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. There are different types of exercise, and each has its place and purpose. Aerobic exercise increases heart rate and gets the blood pumping. Strength-training exercises build muscle. Yoga enhances flexibility, mindfulness and improves posture. All three types belong to your routine.
Walking is a low-intensity aerobic exercise. It is the most popular exercise for beginners and those who are significantly out of shape because it does not require learning new skills, and it does not put stress on your joints.
Walking is probably already a big part of your daily routine. To see weight loss, try for thirty minutes of moderate-intensity walking at least every other day (or 3-4 days per week.) You can use a treadmill for indoor walking or peruse your neighborhood or local hiking trails. You can increase your activity level by adding minutes, speed, or elevations to your walks.
Plus, if you are walking outdoors, this is a good time to bond with your dogs or soak up some vitamin D. An outdoor walk can make you feel good because the exercise releases endorphins, and time spent outdoors fulfills your instinctual need to connect with nature.
If you are looking for other low-impact alternatives, swimming is an excellent choice. Water has more resistance than air with the added benefit of adding buoyancy, making it easier to perform certain aerobic activities without injury.
Aerobic swimming can mean different things, including swimming laps using the breaststroke or treading water in the pool’s deep end. Sixty minutes of swimming at least three times per week are effective in helping middle-aged women lose weight and lower their risk of heart disease.
Water aerobics is a form of swimming where you use the natural resistance of the water to build muscle and burn calories. It is a great alternative for ultra-low-impact workouts that present no risk of falls. These workouts are good for people of all ages but especially helpful for aging adults who need help with flexibility and range of motion.
Cycling is another low-impact option that engages the whole body. You can take advantage of this workout by buying a bicycle and taking a ride around town or joining a spin class at the gym. Cycling is aerobic, burning between 400 – 1000 calories per hour depending on the intensity, and it builds muscle.
Cycling requires more skill than, say–walking. It takes some practice to negotiate turns, descents and climbing. But with a little practice, you can enjoy a practical exercise that can replace your morning commute.
If you are new to cycling, consult a bike shop to choose a good bicycle and get outfitted with the right gear. Then, start small. Go for a couple of short, leisure rides in your neighborhood. When you feel good with those distances, begin adding more. Cycling is a total body workout, and it is easy to overdo it, especially in nature with plenty of hills.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has become the new norm in aerobics workouts. This type of interval training rotates between periods of high-intensity active workouts and periods of low-intensity recovery. Interval training may be responsible for burning up to 25 – 30% more calories per minute than traditional aerobic workouts.
Interval training is often touted as the most effective workout for losing body fat. And, it can be combined with other forms of aerobic exercise like walking/jogging, swimming, and cycling. However, it is important to note that interval training – specifically high-intensity workouts are not safe for everyone. If you have range of motion deficiencies or are new, you should use caution with these types of workouts. Most trainers or studios will provide modified moves to aid with this.
There are different levels of HIIT workouts available. If you are a beginner, try ramping up your intensity for as little as 20 to 30 seconds between recovery periods. Focus on performing what you can and build your strength towards adding more intensity.
Yoga improves flexibility, mental health, and physical fitness. While not as intense at burning calories as aerobic exercise, yoga offers multiple benefits that make it an attractive option. For one, it promotes mindfulness which may be linked to improved self-control when it comes to food choices.
Different types of yoga vary in intensity; even restorative yoga can burn calories. And the stretching poses help build flexibility which improves the range of motion. Both direct and indirect benefits of yoga help support weight loss.
Before you go to a class, spend some time getting familiar with different types of yoga. Some are more intense, and others are more spiritual in nature. Choose a type of yoga that fits your needs and start with some beginner poses at home. When you have built up some confidence, go to a yoga class at a gym or yoga studio.
If you are struggling to lose weight or are interested to know which activities burn the most calories, there are several good options to choose from. Simply incorporating more activity throughout the day will lead to fewer pounds on the scale for many people.