You’ll be happy to know that there is no one best exercise to lose weight, you have many choices so finding one that suits your personality and life is easy to do. In fact, the best exercise routine for weight loss is the one that you’ll be happy to stick to.
Exercise for weight loss works when you are consistent with whatever you choose to do. And you're more likely to be consistent if you enjoy what you're doing. That's why we've looked through our best exercises for weight loss collection and selected 15 of the most popular. They include cardio and resistance exercises to suit a variety of lifestyles.
Up next we’re going to tell you about those exercises and also answer your questions like, “What is the best exercise to lose weight and what is the best time to exercise to lose weight?” Also, it is important to remember that while exercise can help you lose weight, it’s not the only benefit or even the biggest one, so we’ll tell you all about that too.
How Does Exercise Aid In Weight Loss?
While exercise is a part of losing weight, the benefits of exercise and the resulting weight loss are tied to your calorie intake. How much weight you lose depends on how many fewer calories you consume than you use, which is called a calorie deficit. If you expend more calories than you consume, you will lose weight. Exercise can help you lose more weight because it uses up more calories.
You can find out how many calories your body uses even when you don't exercise by calculating your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). So, for example, if your body uses 2000 calories on average every day, and you consume 2000 calories in a day, your weight will stay the same. However, if you use 2000 calories and you consume 1500 calories you create a calorie deficit which will go towards losing weight.
When you exercise, you expend calories, therefore it aids in helping you lose weight.
What Other Benefits Does Exercise Have?
The benefits of exercise go far beyond weight loss, which is why it’s a great habit to pick up regardless of whether you want to lose weight or not.
Some of the benefits of exercise include the following.
Regulates Blood Sugar
When you exercise, your body draws on existing glucose/ stored in your liver and muscles. For your body to replenish that sugar, it pulls from the sugar in your blood. That means exercising can help to decrease your blood sugar level. Additionally, as exercise becomes a regular thing that you do rather than a one-off, your body starts utilizing your insulin more efficiently. This then helps to not only lower blood sugar levels but also regulate it.
When your blood sugar is balanced, it can also help you enjoy a steady stream of energy. When you have too much sugar in your blood, you’ll feel spikes of energy and then sudden drops that make you tired. Expending your energy with exercise can balance out those ups and downs.
Muscle Mass Maintenance & Growth
The next time you see someone with beautiful muscle tone, you should note that they’ve likely committed to some form of resistance exercise. That’s because resistance training like push-ups and lifting weights directly impact the size and shape of your muscles. These exercises also ensure that you don’t lose muscle as you lose weight.
Resistance training pushes your muscles, which in turn builds strength and also results in muscle hypertrophy, Hypertrophy is a scientific way of saying muscle growth. While some people trigger hypertrophy by lifting weights, others develop it by playing sports that require muscle resistance like tennis. The key to maintaining the muscle growth you achieve is to continue with resistance training, if you stop, your muscles also reduce in size, definition and strength.
While some people want a muscular physique simply for aesthetics, there are very functional reasons for having developed muscle. One of the biggest reasons is to gain strength, another good reason is that developed muscles also help your metabolism work more efficiently. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest too.
Aids Mental Health
Exercise not only enhances your body structure but also enhances your brain structure. Studies indicate that exercise, even if it's moderate, has a big effect on the brain. The parts of the brain it affects appear to be the same ones that affect your mood. Some research says that part of the positive effect of exercise may come from the release of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
BDNF helps with the creation of new brain cells. People with certain mental health issues like depression often are low on the BDNF. Additionally, if you’ve ever watched Legally Blonde, you might remember Elle Woods using the ‘endorphin defense’ in court. In the movie, she made the argument that her client exercises, exercise releases endorphins, endorphins make you happy, and happy people don’t shoot their husbands.
While all of that is linked to a movie plot, the endorphins claims are true. Exercise does trigger the release of endorphins and those chemicals make you happy. In addition to the chemical reactions in your brain that exercise induces, there are other real-world benefits. Those benefits include the feeling of accomplishment, social interaction, and even improved sleep. All of those things contribute to more sound mental health.
When you exercise your body’s stress hormones reduce, which in turn relaxes you and reduces stress. When you feel stressed, that’s your cortisol talking. Cortisol gets released in times of stress, however, when you exercise your levels of cortisol reduce regardless of what other things are going on in your life.
Stress also releases our fight-or-flight hormone adrenaline. While that’s great for situations in which you are in grave danger, regular spikes of adrenaline are no good for your health. When you exercise your adrenaline hormone levels also go down.
Best Exercises For Weight Loss
The best exercise is the one that you do. So, before embarking on a grandiose plan to become a gym bunny, think about what type of exercise is right for you right now. If you don’t work out much, then start with simple things like walking into your routine. When you have your basic routine established, then you can think about incorporating more variety.
Up next we’re going to tell you about 15 different types of exercise you can include in your weight loss journey. Our Fitmate coaches can help you create a plan that will help you slowly introduce the types of exercises you want to do on a gradual basis so exercising becomes easy to do.
If you don’t want to spend oodles of time on exercise but want to get major impact with the time you do spend then High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) might be for you. This type of exercise involves you going hard for short periods. For example, you might run at your full capacity for 30 seconds and then walk for a couple of minutes before a second 30 seconds.
You can use the HIIT concept with many different types of exercises like skipping rope or while climbing steps. The idea is simply to go at your activity hard for a short amount of time to get the heart pumping at 80-90 percent of its capacity before breaking and repeating. This gets you sweating and helps you lose weight as well as build muscle and even improve your metabolism function.
One of the best ways you can introduce exercise into your life is by taking walks. Any walking you do outside of your daily routine can help you lose weight. As we mentioned earlier, the important thing about losing weight is to make sure that you are consuming fewer calories than you use. The more you walk, the more calories you use.
You can use step trackers like Pacer to track how many steps you do each day, and steadily increase them week to week.
Most people don’t expect to see yoga on a list of exercises to lose weight. However, there are certain types of yoga as well as types of yoga poses that require more strength and endurance than others. This is something a yoga instructor can direct you to or you can consult with your Fitmate coach.
Certain types of yoga, like Vinyasa Yoga, take place in a hot studio. The heat coupled with yoga movements leads to heavy sweating, which in turn helps you shed weight. Even standard yoga can help you lose weight since poses help you build endurance and strength.
You can call boxing a complete body workout because you engage most of your muscles. One of the reasons people love boxing for weight loss is that it is an activity as well as an exercise. It also provides cardio as well as resistance training which helps you build muscle. Some boxing coaches say you can use up between 800-1000 calories in a one-hour long boxing session.
Many people enjoy swimming for its own sake, the good news is that you can enjoy swimming and lose weight at the same time. Swimming requires all of your body, which makes it good for an all-over workout. Swimming also stretches your muscles and elongates them while building strength. Additionally, you get your heart rate pumping which makes swimming an excellent cardio workout.
The key to using swimming for weight loss is to build your distance and time gradually. You may start out doing a leisurely few laps and move on to triple the amount in a few weeks. The more laps you do, the more calories you lose, which in turn help you lose weight. Additionally, the strength-building grows muscle which helps you burn calories even when you’re not moving.
Cycling is another leisure activity that can be turned into an exercise to lose weight. The longer you cycle the more calories you lose, however, if you cycle for a shorter time at a faster speed, you’ll get the same calorie impact. A Fitmate coach can help you design a plan to reach your weight loss goals. The key is to increase time, frequency, and/or intensity gradually. You can turn your fun weekend bike ride into a bi-weekly event and build from there.
If you’re looking for a less-regimented approach to exercise and weight loss, then dance might be the answer. As you know, there are many forms of dance and they all have their rhythm and intensity. So like with other exercises, the key to losing calories is how long you dance for and how fast you dance. The longer and faster you move, the more calories you can burn.
Dance is something you can do easily in the comfort of your home. If you want to get the benefits of the social activity of dance, there are many dance classes available like Zumba, salsa, and hip-hop. These types of classes can be offered at your local gym or independent dance studios. You can also follow along on a video if classes are not available.
Body Weight Workout
Resistance training is important as it builds muscle which then helps your metabolism work more efficiently. People sometimes avoid resistance training because they think it requires a gym membership or a set of weights at home. Well, the good news is that you can do resistance training by using your own body as the resistant weight. Examples of bodyweight resistance training include jumping jacks, reverse crunches, and push-ups.
Strength training means doing some type of physical activity that works out your muscles so you can build your strength. Resistance training under strength training, but the difference is that strength training often involves focusing on a particular set of muscles at a time. The difference isn’t important if you’re just beginning strength training.
You can do any number of exercises that strengthen your muscles - with or without equipment. At home, you can do squats, planks, lunges, and burpees. If you want to get some equipment, you can invest in some weights or kettlebells. The important thing is to start and maintain whatever routine you start. Repetition is the key to building that strength and muscle mass. The muscle mass will help you lose weight when you’re exercising and even when you’re not.
Many of us remember having fun jumping rope as kids, we can also remember being out of breath after a long bout of double-dutch and the like. Well, in that right there is the reason jump rope is so good for weight loss. When you jump rope, you’re using your whole body, and if you do it for 15 minutes and more, you can burn a lot of calories.
A kettlebell is a heavy ball with a handle, the ball is usually made out of steel or cast iron. Kettlebells are used to do a variety of compound exercises that use a bunch of muscles rather than focusing on a particular group like with other weights. These exercises often involve short intense bouts of movement which help in burning more calories. The compound exercises also help with elongation and flexibility which improves your overall appearance as you lose weight.
If you’ve ever had to run up a flight of stairs or climb several sets of them, you know that stair climbing definitely gets your heart pumping and your legs tired. Those are two great things when you’re losing weight. That means you’re getting both a cardio workout as well as a resistance workout.
Stair climbing works out muscles in your legs and strengthens them. That means that not only are you burning calories as you climb the stairs, but you’re also losing calories after because the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn regardless of what you're doing.
Additionally, you don’t need to go to a gym to stair climb. Any set of stairs will do, whether it’s your home stairs, work stairs, or even the escalator at the mall. Stair climbing provides you with exercise that is both cardio and strength training.
If you’re starting out with exercise, any type of running routine you introduce will help you lose weight. That’s because running is an aerobic exercise and requires a lot of calories to do. You can start with a short run once or twice a week and increase your time or speed or incline over time to lose even more calories. The great thing about running is that you can do it whenever you want, wherever you are without any equipment.
Running can also be very social as many towns and cities have running groups that include both beginners and those that are more advanced. Joining a group can also make it easier to stick to your routine.
If one of the reasons you’ve been hesitant to exercise is because it’s hard to fit it into your schedule, then look no further than interval training. You can cut your workout time in half by using the interval method. Essentially, all you’re doing with interval training is doing short bursts of intense activity in between regular-paced activity.
Let’s say you’re starting your exercise with walking, you can increase how many calories you burn by adding periods of fast walking in between slower periods of walking. If you already walk fast then you can introduce 30-second bursts of jogging in between your walking. Interval training helps you burn more calories in less time while also getting the full cardiovascular and strength training benefits.
If you’re looking for a low-impact and graceful way to burn some calories, then pilates is the way to go. Pilates focuses on engaging your core so that you build a strong base. It also helps with the flexibility and elongation of muscles. One of the greatest benefits of pilates beyond helping you burn calories for weight loss is the great effect it has on your posture. That posture effect alone makes you stand tall and proud, which then makes you want to work out more, which then helps you burn more calories.
Whether you’re out on the water or in a gym, rowing movements give you a full-body workout that helps burn a lot of calories. While it may appear that your arms are doing all the work, your legs are just as involved. Rowing exercises muscles in your arms and legs while getting your heart pumping. While the strength training benefits have yet to be examined, rowing is a great cardio workout that you can do out on the lake and in the comfort of a gym.
How To Stay On Track With Weight Loss
The key to staying on track with weight loss is to make changes gradually and then be consistent with them. It is also important to make sure you have a calorie deficit which means that you should consume fewer calories than you expend.
Eat A Healthy Diet
The type of food you consume plays a leading role in how much weight you lose. One of the best ways to stay on track with weight loss is to consume foods rich in lean protein and fiber. These types of foods are filling, which means you get full fast and in turn, don’t overeat. When you don’t overeat, you can more easily maintain a calorie deficit to lose weight.
Along with those two types of food, it’s important to consume complex carbs like whole grains as well as veggies and fruit. You can also avoid extra calories by drinking water, coffee and tea instead of sugary drinks.
Eating the right foods will keep you satiated while also providing you with healthy vitamins and minerals Additionally when you eat foods rich in lean protein and fiber, you get fuller faster. That also means you don’t consume too many calories which also makes it easier to maintain that calorie deficit and with that lose weight.
Work With A Nutrition Coach
You’ve got a lot of choices to make once you make your mind up to lose weight. You’ll be wondering what kind of healthy food to eat, which diet to follow and what kind of exercises to start doing. Sometimes the sheer thought of all the choices you have to make can be discouraging. That’s where a nutrition coach can help. Our Fitmate coaches work with you to create a sustainable and holistic weight loss plan.
We help you implement changes into your lifestyle gradually so that they become a part of your lifestyle over the long term. That means making incremental changes to your diet like adding more lean protein and fiber to your diet. We encourage you to add new things before trying to eliminate anything. The incremental changes also apply to exercise. If you ‘re a beginner, we start off with walks, and if you already walk, then maybe a jog is in order.
Our coaches check in with you weekly and are always there to answer your questions and give you advice during the week. Your check-ins keep you accountable while the advice propels your forward in helping to meet your goals.
If you want to find out how a Fitmate coach can help you reach your weight loss goals, take our Fitmate quiz. You even have a chance to enjoy a free 7-day coaching trial when you click the button below.
Author Alon Laniado is the founder of Fitmate Coach and certified in Nutrition with Stanford University School of Medicine and with Precision Nutrition. He is a certified Health & Wellness Coach and Personal Trainer with the American Council on Exercise. Alon has helped thousands of clients lose weight and is on a mission to help more people benefit from weight-loss coaches by making the service more affordable and accessible using technology.
How much should I work out to lose weight fast?
How fast or slow you lose weight depends on a variety of factors including your metabolism, current weight, age, and sex among others. When you exercise, you burn calories. The more activities and exercise you include in your week, the more extra calories you are burning. However, along with that, you should not be eating more, just because you’re burning more if you want to lose weight.
The weight loss will come when the number of calories you burn exceeds how many you consume by at least 500 calories per day. If you do that for a week, you’ll lose approximately one pound. That is the best and fastest way to lose weight for most people. However, if you want to get into specifics with your body, you can contact our Fitmate coaches for a helpful consultation.
What exercise burns the most calories in 30 minutes?
Interval training is one of the most effective exercises to burn calories when you are short on time. Interval training can be applied to many types of exercises, but one of the top calorie expenders is doing short fast sprints, followed by jogging. Running is a good form of cardiovascular exercise.
What time of day is best to exercise?
The best time of day to exercise is when you have the time to do it. While studies have been done on whether exercising in the morning is better or in the evening, there haven't been absolute results. The best time to exercise is when you have time to do it.
Should I workout 6 days a week?
It is not necessary to work out six days a week to lose weight. If you are a beginner, it is recommended that you start slow with 1-2 days of exercise per week for 30 minutes. Once you have that routine down pat, you can increase your frequency and time, if your schedule allows.
As long as you pay attention to exercise and the types of food you consume, you should see consistent weight loss that you can maintain. Losing weight too fast as a result of working out at a frequency you can’t maintain will result in you quickly gaining the weight back.