Losing weight can be easy to understand but hard to do. Fundamentally, effective weight loss is predicated on two main factors: eating well and exercising regularly. Both of these tasks can prove to be challenging as they do require commitment to yield lasting results.
Sad to say, not many people exercise for weight loss with consistency and dedication. These people might prefer to believe that by reducing their caloric intake, they will get slim quite fast and easily. They may not realize it, but they are simply hoping their weight loss diet alone will do the trick.
The plain truth is that regular exercise is a crucial part of a healthy and natural weight loss program. If you fail to see that exercise and weight loss go hand in hand, it becomes harder for you to get slimmer and fitter, even if you have managed to lose a few pounds.
The Importance of Exercise for Weight Loss
One of the great benefits of exercise is that it changes your metabolism, which is extremely important for shedding unwanted pounds. Metabolism actually translates to the number of calories the body burns in order to supply enough energy to satisfy its needs and perform its functions. Each day, calories are expended due to the following factors:
- Resting metabolic rate
- Thermic effect of food
- Energy spent in physical activities
The resting metabolic rate represents the number of calories burned to accomplish the body’s vital functions while in a resting state. This lower rate can increase dramatically when you exercise, which naturally means more calories are depleted. Interestingly, the body also expends calories when you eat — this so-called thermic effect of food is big for proteins and small for fats, as explained here.
More importantly, when you are working out with weight loss as a goal, your body continues to burn extra calories for a period of time after you finish exercising. These extra calories are influenced by the intensity and duration of the exercises you do.
High-intensity weight loss workouts force the body to burn more calories, which promotes fat loss and builds lean muscles. Having more muscle means that the body will need to burn extra calories to keep the muscles working. Thus, when you exercise for weight loss and eat well, you will end up losing weight faster and looking fitter. Dieting alone cannot deliver this result.
Types of Exercise
According to wikipedia, physical exercise can be classified into 3 groups:
☆☆☆ Interval training is a great way to leverage anaerobic exercise to target weight loss.
Alternating between high-intensity workouts and rest periods, interval training makes effective use of exercise time.
In fact, as little as 4 minutes a day is all that is required to start working out. No one has any excuses anymore not to exercise regularly.
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Included are 2 DVDs covering 10 workouts each. You start with beginner exercises and progress steadily to more intense ones.
Requiring only mere minutes each day, there’s no doubt you’d stick to this simple approach to exercise.
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- Flexibility exercises — improve the range of motion of muscles and joints. Such as stretching.
- Aerobic exercises — focus on increasing cardiovascular endurance. Examples include cycling, swimming, walking, skipping rope, rowing, running, hiking, playing tennis.
- Anaerobic exercises — increase short-term muscle strength. Like weight training, functional training, eccentric training or sprinting, high-intensity interval training.
As far as exercising for weight loss goes, flexibility exercises do not play a part. Both aerobic and anaerobic exercises can help in weight loss, though experts can’t quite agree which is superior. For example, this report says aerobic exercise is futile.
Aerobic vs Anaerobic Exercises
The words themselves convey the stark difference: aerobic means “with oxygen” while anaerobic means “without oxygen”.
Basically, aerobic or cardio exercise refers to an activity you can sustain for more than a few minutes while your heart, lungs and muscles work overtime. Whereas anaerobic exercise is the type where you get out of breath in just a few moments.
Aerobic exercise is good for the heart — it gets stronger and becomes efficient at pumping more blood. This benefits the body as oxygen delivery is improved throughout. Once oxygen gets inside muscles, it is used to burn fat and carbohydrate for fuel to keep the engines in the body running.
The more efficient muscles are at consuming oxygen, the more fuel is burned — this equates to a fitter body that is able to exercise longer. However, because aerobic workouts aren’t intense, the effect on weight loss seems lesser when considering the much longer time involved with such exercises.
Note: For readers who’d like to go in depth, MedicineNet.com has a very comprehensive write-up on aerobic exercise.
Anaerobic exercise is an intense activity performed over a short period of time, such as sprinting, lifting weights or climbing a long flight of stairs. This pushes the body’s limit and can burn many more calories due to the way muscles get their energy supply.
Muscles require glucose to perform and have their own private store of glycogen acting as an immediate reserve source. During increased exertion, muscle glycogen is broken down to produce glucose for energy. As the glycogen store depletes, the liver takes over to supply glucose and fat metabolism starts to increase.
Anaerobic exercise can appear more rewarding when considering weight loss — spend less time yet burn more calories. If you love the outdoors, try doing short sprints; or playing tennis or basketball. If not, you can exercise at home with just a set of dumbbells or kettlebells…
Resistance Training with KettleBells
Resistance training in the form of weightlifting can expend a large amount of energy, despite the fact that a single set of exercises usually take less than 30 seconds to do. You can work out in the gym or get your own set of simple equipment, such as kettlebells.
Lots of people like kettlebell exercises for weight loss for one reason: these exercises involve many muscle groups and they are very effective. Kettlebells are very versatile and exercising with them require you to be very rigorous.
A high-intensity kettlebell workout can take you less than 30 minutes in total for a good session of fat burning and muscle building. You can get started with the Bob Harper Training DVD here.
Exercise Your Way to Lose Weight and Keep Fit
When you exercise for weight loss, you should have a mix of anaerobic and aerobic exercises. While you workout to effectively lose fat and build lean muscles, you’d also improve your overall fitness and heart health. This is perhaps the best way to get slim, stay in good shape and keep fit.
If you ever wondered whether there is a secret to how to keep weight off, you now know that regular exercise plays a major role. For any weight loss program that works, of course you’d need to eat right as well to ensure your body is well nourished. Oops, the cat’s now out of the bag, so to speak.