There are many different types of exercise: running, interval training, yoga, Pilates, etc. and most proponents of each exercise claim theirs is the best for health. Is there one exercise that trumps all the others for weight loss?
A variety of exercise can be beneficial. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests adults get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate exercise or 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous exercise and muscle strengthening exercises 2 days a week. However, exercising more than these guidelines is probably needed for weight loss.
Cardio exercise- high calorie burn
When trying to lose weight, increasing calorie expenditure is important. Certain exercises burn more calories than others. Cardio exercises that keep the heart rate elevated continuously are considered high calorie burn exercises. Examples of cardio exercise includes walking, swimming, running, biking, playing soccer, dancing, etc. See also: How much cardio to lose weight fast
Cardio exercises generally engage many muscle groups, have a high calorie burn and strengthen the heart. Running is often associated as a high calorie burn exercise, but running is not the only high calorie burn. Other high calorie burn exercises include kick boxing, biking, jump roping, rowing and aerobics.
Interval training is growing in popularity for exercise and weight loss. Interval training cycles between bringing the heart rate way up through intense exercise for a short period of time, and bringing the heart rate down with rest. Even though the heart rate is not consistently elevated, like cardio exercise, interval training will also have a high calorie burn.
Some research suggests interval type training can increase metabolism hours after exercise.
Lifting weights, Pilates or yoga don’t give as high calorie burn as cardio or interval exercise. Does this mean they’re not important for weight loss? Weight lifting can help increase or keep lean muscle mass when trying to lose weight.
Keeping lean mass is helpful when trying to lose weight because increasing lean body mass can increase basal metabolic rate (BMR). A combination of high calorie burn exercise plus strength building exercise can have a greater benefit during weight loss.
Strength training major muscle groups two times per week is generally recommended, but to get an individual recommendation for your goals talk to an exercise professional.
Exercises like Pilates or yoga can offer additional health benefits to an exercise program. These exercises can also help strengthen muscles, and Pilates focuses primarily on increasing core strength. They can also be beneficial for increasing flexibility and mental health.
Advanced yoga and Pilates that move faster will have a higher calorie burn than beginner classes but need to be worked up to appropriately. Yoga has many different forms of practice. Hot yoga will have a higher calorie burn than more meditative yoga practices.
What are you going to stick with long term?
One of the biggest factors for considering what exercise is best for weight loss is to consider what program you will stick with long term. Everyone is unique, and there are many types of exercise to fit individual needs.
In general a type of cardio plus strength exercises is a good combination, but there are many types of exercises within the cardio classification to pick from. If you have issues with your knees, running may not be best long term. Swimming, Zumba or bike riding may be better alternatives.
Weight loss is a long term commitment, so find exercises that you can keep as part of your lifestyle long term. Add in variety; change up the type of exercise you do so it doesn’t become monotonous.
In general, the higher the intensity the higher the calorie burn when exercising. Does this mean you always want to exercise at a high intensity? Probably not. Exercising at a lower intensity, often called moderate, will still burn a high number of calories and the body will use a higher percentage of fat for fuel.
Both moderate and high intensity cardio exercises are beneficial for weight loss. With moderate exercise you are still working hard, but you could carry on a conversation. High intensity exercise you are reaching closer to your max effort, and it is hard to talk in full sentences. High intensity exercises will burn more calories, but moderate exercise will have a higher percentage of fat burn.
There is no one magic exercise that is best for weight loss; instead there are some general guidelines when thinking about which exercises are best for you. In general, a combination of cardio exercise and muscle strengthening is important.
Cardio exercise can be a number of things: running, swimming, biking, basketball, etc. Choose something that you actually enjoy doing so you will stick with it long term. A variety of moderate and high intensity exercise can be beneficial for a large calorie burn and increasing fat burn