Maintaining regular exercise can help sustain a healthy body weight, so any activities you do will have a positive effect. What specific types of exercise, though, are best for weight loss? That's the question I am answering in today's blog.
Exercise has numerous health benefits to offer. It'll keep the heart healthy, improve mood and can even reduce stress. Many people seek to do more activity, though, in order to lose weight; so, what kind of activities should you be focusing on if this is your ultimate aim?
Exercise classes offer lots of options for losing weight.
Spin classes are extremely popular as they are high impact and intense. This is a bike workout done to a background of music. The instructor will lead you through various activities, including sprints, distance and uphill battles. It's sweaty, challenging and will definitely help towards weight loss.
An exercise that focuses on toning up the muscles is also a good option. 'Legs, bums and tums' originated in the 1990s and is still very popular today for this very purpose. It's not as intense as a spin workout but it is still a good way to work the muscles and improve their strength.
Finally, for a whole-body workout, you could consider a dance class. You've got lots of options here, including jazz, tap and even contemporary! This will work on strength, stamina and endurance, ultimately helping towards your weight loss goals. Plus, dance is a lot of fun and can be a good way to meet new people.
Exercising at home
You can find many exercise classes online through platforms like YouTube. This will allow you to practice at home and you can fit the activities around your usual routine too! There’s a range to pick from – just type in ‘exercises to lose weight’ for ideas.
Research shows that aerobic activity is important in helping to lose weight. This includes anything that gets your heart and breathing rate up, such as swimming, cycling and running.
A 2012 study compared resistance training (weightlifting), aerobic exercise (in this case, treadmill running, cross trainer uses and bike workouts) and a combination of the two in order to work out the effect on body mass.1 All participants had previously been living sedentary lives.
It was found that those who did aerobic training lost more weight and fat than the other groups over an 8-month period. Resistance training alone did not influence body mass in the way that aerobic training did.
So, time to dig out those trainers and head out for a jog! Just remember to push too hard to fast, though, as you don't want to risk injury. Also, we don't want to discourage you away from exercising by trying to do too much too quickly.
You can tackle body fat with some home workouts, and circuits are an excellent choice. This includes things like push-ups, sit-ups and even star-jumps. Take a look at our exercise videos for some more ideas.
Circuits help to keep exercise interesting, as you can mix up the type you do. They can also be worked around your schedule, which is handy!
My self-care tip on how to maintain fitness gains
If you exercise regularly, over time you may notice that it becomes harder to make fitness gains. In my video below I explain why this is the case and what you can do about it.
It has been suggested that taking less than 5,000 steps a day indicates a sedentary lifestyle. So, if your daily step count looks a little like this, aiming to walk more is the first step to getting more active and losing weight.
Remember, adding any new exercise to your routine is beneficial for your weight and you don't always have to start off with something intense! If you're only up for going a 10-minute walk every other day to start with, that's fine – as long as it is more exercise than you were doing previously.
Once you've got used to this, aim to increase the speed and distance of your daily walks. The evidence suggests that longer stints of exercise can help weight loss2, and we already know that if we get our breathing and heart rate up, it counts as an aerobic activity which is important for weight loss.
Tip! Research as shown that using a pedometer can encourage us to be more active as we aim to get our step count up. It has also been found to reduce body mass and even blood pressure.3 Many phones now come with pedometers built into them, and there are lots of smart watches with pedometers on the market if you want to get serious!
All exercise must be in combination with a good diet. There's no point in burning lots of calories during exercise then raiding the biscuit tin when you get back for a post-workout snack. We have to ensure we are not consuming more calories than the body is able to burn off. So, some healthy post-workout snacks include:
A healthy cereal bar
Crunchy veg – a bit of hummus with carrot or pepper, for example.
Also, it's important to think about your meals. Lay off processed, microwaveable meals. Perhaps try having a couple of veggie days a week and cook fresh, homemade meals as much as possible.
Finally, the ability to maintain a healthy weight will vary from individual to individual. As long as you are exercising regularly and eating well, you are on the right track to a healthier lifestyle!