Exercise is vital to weight loss because it burns off the extra calories that would normally be stored in your body as fat. And to lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume. Research has shown over and over that no matter what diet pill ads you see on television, exercise and eating right is the healthiest and most effective way to control your weight.
However, you need to exercise correctly. The next time you’re at the gym, take a look around. Many times you will notice that overweight men will gravitate to the free weights or weight training machines and that overweight women will gravitate to the cardio machines. This happens because the men have a false idea that by building muscle, the fat on top of it will miraculously disappear. And the women have the false idea that cardio alone is enough to get the body they want. They’re both only half correct. You must incorporate both cardio and strength training into an exercise routine if you plan to lose weight and get in shape.
Without cardio, pumping weights and doing crunches will do little to get rid of a beer gut or love handles, no matter how strong the muscles underneath become. Cardio — exercise that gets your blood pumping — is the fat-burning mechanism you need to lose weight. However, you will burn more calories if you build lean muscle while you’re at it by incorporating strength training into a cardio routine. Why? Muscle uses calories up at a faster rate than body fat which means that the stronger your muscles, the more calories you’ll be able to burn.
It is also important to exercise at least five times a week. Healthy adults aged 18-64 should participate in 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week and participate in strength training exercises at least twice a week, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Brisk walking or raking the yard qualifies as moderate-intensity. However, you may choose to do 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity instead. Vigorous-intensity workouts are known for making your heart beat faster (cardio) for a long period of time and include cycling, running, or swimming laps.
But that’s for healthy adults. If you’re overweight, you will need to step your aerobic exercise up a few notches and reduce your calorie intake. The good news is, if you do this, not only will you lose weight, but the exercise will also strengthen your cardiovascular system, reduce your blood pressure and even boost your mood!