What Kind of Exercise Is the Best for Effective Weight Loss

Written by: Miloš Kalc, prof. of sports education

Every weight-loss program includes physical activity, simply because more calories are being burned when moving. It's a simple formula: when we spend more energy than we consume, we start losing weight.

Fewer pounds on a scale do not necessarily mean healthy weight loss, says Vojko Strojnik, Ph.D. in his advice on risks during exercise for weight loss. Our goal is not just to reduce our weight but to do so by losing body fat.

One has to burn approximately 3,500 kCal to loose approximately one pound of fatty tissue. If we aim to lose one pound per week, it means that we have to burn approximately 500 kCal per day by working out. 

Many experts share an opinion that it's easier to eat 500 kCal less than burn the same amount with a workout. Anyway, exercising speeds up the efficiency of dieting. It stimulates the body to react to the weight loss more functionally as it does while only dieting.

The generally acknowledged and the most efficient exercise for effective weight loss is moderate long‑lasting aerobic workout.

How to Pick Proper Exercise Load?

An example of ideal weight loss is at least one hour long workout at the 60-70 % of your maximum heart rate. One's maximum heart rate can be calculated by formula 220 minus age (in years).

Keep in mind that this is only an approximation and if you would like to know your maximum heart rate load more precisely, the professional load tests must be performed. But the latter are not suitable for beginners or occasional recreation enthusiasts. 

I Am a Complete Beginner. What Kind of Exercise Would You Recommend Me?

Most beginners are not capable of this kind of strain when they start. If you are a beginner as well, the best for you would be an interval workout that combines less intensive exercise (walking) with the more intensive one (power walking, jogging or running). During your workout aim to reach the 60-70 % HRmax range in the intervals of higher intensity. We also suggest you to start with minute intervals of hard work (running), interrupted by a minute of relaxation (walking).

A workout should last up to one hour. Every week, try to increase the intensity by adding another minute to the intense intervals – but keep the relaxation intervals one minute long.

If you don't feel like lengthening the intense intervals, because you are not ready for such strain, stick to the current interval length for another week. When you feel ready just shorten (or completely eliminate) the relaxation intervals. It is recommended to exercise at least two to three times per week.

What about Busy People with Don't Have Time?

Do you have a fast lifestyle and you don't feel like you have an hour to spend for your workout? Don't give up. There are workouts that offer highly intensive intervals for good results.

Tabata method includes 8 half-minute intervals (20 seconds of maximum workout and 10 seconds of relaxation) four times per week.

Little method recommends 8 to 12 intervals, where the 75 seconds of hard work and 75 seconds of break exchange three times per week.

But let us warn you that these kinds of trainings are not appropriate for beginners.

Which Workout Is Appropriate for Me?

Aerobic workout is the most appropriate for losing weight. Running, cycling, elliptical trainer, Nordic walking are typical examples. Be aware that by exercises that activate more muscle mass we burn more energy. For example, ski running activates the muscles of your arms and legs and is more energy consuming than cycling where mostly leg muscles are used.

But the most important is to find out which type of exercise is the most suitable for you to enjoy the workout.

Is Aerobic Workout the Only Appropriate?

Besides the aerobic workout, we recommend strength workout to strengthen our whole body. Strength and stability workout for torso muscles is especially important.  When we lose body fat, it is usually good to increase muscle mass with the strength training.

Is any Workout Appropriate for Anyone?

Conventional workout types (running, walking, fitness) are not really good for overweight people, because they can cause joint problems. More on this topic can be found in the advice on overweight and workout. You can also find suggestions for alternative exercises that don't put so much strain on the joints and are appropriate for overweight people.