Spring is here and summer is just around the corner. Better still, for the first time in a couple of years, beach holidays may be back on the agenda for many people. However, it’s also the time that lockdown flab and failed New Year’s resolutions will become increasingly difficult to hide. The clock, then, is ticking. The goal – to lose as much weight as possible, boosting health, longevity and your self-confidence. Here are five exercises to help you do just that.
It might be lower intensity, but that’s precisely why walking is one of the best exercises for losing weight. It’s great for beginners and puts very little strain on your joints. Unlike more intense exercises, you can also keep going for longer. According to Harvard Health, you can expect to burn between 135 and 189 calories in a 30 minute walk. If you can find time for an hour or mores walking a day, it can have a significant impact on weight loss and health.
The number of calories burned will also depend on your weight. If you’re heavier, you’ll expend more calories than if you’re lighter. Equally, more intense walking will boost your heart rate and burn more calories. If you live in an area which has steep hills, you’ll naturally end up getting more from your walk than someone whose local walk is relatively flat.
Walking will provide a foundation for exercise. To really get into the fat burning zone, you need to up the intensity with exercises such as interval training. The best thing about this is that it doesn’t take so much time. A 15-minute session can expend more calories than a 40-minute jog, although it can be hard work.
Try sprinting for a couple of minutes before recovering with a slow jog for a minute or so. Intense exercise depletes the amount of oxygen available for muscles which forces them to burn fat instead. A 2016 study using groups of previously inactive people found that interval sprints, with periods of active recovery were effective at increasing aerobic fitness.
Another exercise which relies on high intensity work outs is circuit training. This is a series of strength and cardio exercises repeated several times with only a little rest in between. What’s great about this option is not only that it burns calories, but it provides variety in your exercise regime.
You can do these at a gym, but it’s also possible to set up your own circuit at home. For example, mix between activities such as star jumps, squats and planks or jump ropes with various repetitions. Aim for around 30 seconds to a minute for each exercise.
Because circuit training uses most of the muscles in the body, it also increases oxygen use which boosts energy expenditure.
A quick look at the muscles on professional rowers tells you all you need to know about this exercise – not only is it great for burning fat but it will also build strength. While direct calorie comparisons with running suggest it burns slightly more calories than rowing, running has a higher impact on your body which means rowing can be useful for someone who has had injuries or wants to carry on for longer.
The number of calories you burn will depend on the length of your rowing sessions, intensity and your weight. However, what makes it a highly effective way to lose weight is how it mobilises your fat so it can be used to burn energy. With rowing it’s not just a case of the number of calories being burned but how your body is burning them.
For all sorts of reasons, a good bike ride is seen as one of the most effective ways to burn calories. A recent study carried out by Ocean Finance rated cycling as the top exercise for calorie burning. For men riding a stationary bike for one hour can burn 932 calories. Women can expect to burn 782 calories. The market for stationery exercise bikes has been thriving in recent times, but there’s no reason not to get the same effect by using your road bike.
Exactly how many calories you burn will depend on things such as your weight, the route you take and how long your ride lasts, but it’s a great exercise which not only burns fat but gets you outside. It also gives you the opportunity to take a rest during your ride which means you may be able to keep going for longer than would be the case going for a run.
There are some caveats to the idea that exercise expends energy. A report from Harvard Health found that there’s a ceiling effect. At higher levels of exercise, the amount of energy expended stopped rising. From a purely calorie burning perspective, then, exercise can only take you so far. For rapid weight loss you should combine exercise with a healthy diet, aided with some supplements to increase the effect.
That said, the benefits of exercise go far beyond simple calorie burning. It can reduce blood pressure, slow your resting heart rate and reduce your risk of diseases such as diabetes. All of this will keep you in better physical condition, lead to a longer life and help with your weight loss goals.