In the quest for weight loss, many people turn to exercise as a key strategy. Regular physical activity not only helps burn calories but also offers a range of other health benefits, such as reduced risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes. However, with so many exercise options available, it can be challenging to determine which ones are the most effective type of exercise for weight loss. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the best exercises for weight loss and provide insights into their benefits, calorie-burning potential, and how to incorporate them into your fitness routine.
1. Walking: A simple and effective exercise for weight loss
Walking is often overlooked as a weight loss exercise, but it is a simple and accessible activity that can yield significant results. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced fitness enthusiast, walking can be incorporated into your daily routine with ease. Not only does walking burn calories, but it is also a low-impact exercise that puts minimal stress on your joints. According to Harvard Health, a 155-pound person can burn approximately 175 calories in 30 minutes of walking at a moderate pace of 4 mph [^5].
To make walking a more effective weight loss exercise, you can incorporate it into your daily activities. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk during your lunch break, or schedule regular walks with a friend or family member. Gradually increase the duration and intensity of your walks to challenge your body and continue seeing progress in your weight loss journey.
2. Jogging or running: Amp up the intensity for greater calorie burn
If you’re looking for a more intense cardiovascular workout, jogging or running may be the perfect exercise for fat loss. These activities not only burn calories but also help target body fat in particular visceral fat, commonly known as belly fat, which is associated with an increased risk of chronic diseases [^7]. The calorie-burning potential of jogging or running depends on your pace. Harvard Health estimates that a 155-pound person can burn around 288 calories in 30 minutes of jogging at a 5 mph pace or 360 calories in 30 minutes of running at a 6 mph pace [^5].
To incorporate jogging or running into your fitness routine, start with shorter distances or intervals if you’re a beginner. Gradually increase your speed and distance as your fitness level improves. Remember to wear proper running shoes and pay attention to your form to prevent injuries. If outdoor running is challenging, consider using a treadmill or running on softer surfaces like grass to reduce the impact on your joints.
3. Cycling: Pedal your way to weight loss
Cycling is a popular cardio workout that helps with weight loss and improves cardiovascular health Whether you prefer outdoor cycling or using a stationary bike at the gym, this activity offers a range of benefits. Harvard Health estimates that a 155-pound person can burn approximately 252 calories in 30 minutes of cycling on a stationary bike at a moderate pace or 288 calories in 30 minutes of cycling at a speed of 12-13.9 mph [^5].
Cycling is suitable for people of all fitness levels, and it is a low-impact exercise that puts minimal stress on your joints. You can start by incorporating cycling into your daily commute or leisurely rides on the weekends. As your fitness level improves, you can challenge yourself with longer distances or more high-intensity workouts. Don’t forget to wear a helmet and follow traffic rules if you’re cycling outdoors for safety.
4. Weight training: Build strength and burn calories
Weight training, also known as strength training, resistance training or weight lifting is an effective exercise to help you burn fat, build muscle, and get stronger. While weight training may not burn as many calories during the actual workout compared to cardiovascular exercises, it plays a crucial role in building lean muscle mass, which can increase your resting metabolic rate [^12]. This means that your body burns more calories even at rest, aiding in long-term weight loss.
The calorie-burning potential of weight training varies depending on factors such as the intensity and duration of your workout. On average, a 155-pound person can burn roughly 108 calories in 30 minutes of weight training [^5]. To incorporate weight training into your fitness routine, you can use free weights, resistance machines, or your body weight. Focus on compound exercises that target multiple muscle groups, such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, and push-ups.
5. Interval training: Maximize calorie burn in minimal time
Interval training, also known as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), is a time-efficient exercise method that can yield significant weight loss results. A HIIT workout involves alternating short bursts of intense exercise with periods of rest or low-intensity activity. This type of training has been shown to burn more calories per minute compared to traditional steady-state exercises like jogging or cycling [^16].
The calorie-burning potential of interval training depends on the exercises you choose and the intensity of your workouts. One study found that HIIT burned 25-30% more calories per minute than other exercise types [^16]. To incorporate interval training into your routine, choose exercises that get your heart rate up, such as jumping jacks, jump rope, mountain climbers, burpees, or sprinting. Perform each exercise at maximum effort for a set period, followed by a short rest period. Repeat this cycle for 10-30 minutes.
6. Swimming: Dive into weight loss
Swimming is a low-impact exercise that can help you burn calories and lose weight. It is a full-body workout that engages various muscle groups and provides cardiovascular benefits. The calorie-burning potential of swimming varies depending on the stroke and intensity. On average, a 155-pound person can burn approximately 216 calories in 30 minutes of swimming [^5].
Swimming is suitable for people of all fitness levels, and it is particularly beneficial for those with joint pain or injuries. Whether you prefer swimming laps in a pool or taking water aerobics classes, swimming offers a range of options to suit your preferences. Experiment with different strokes, such as freestyle, breaststroke, or butterfly, to challenge your body and keep your workouts interesting.
7. Yoga: A mindful approach to weight loss
While yoga may not be a high-intensity calorie-burning form of exercise, it offers numerous benefits that can support weight loss. Yoga combines physical postures, breathing exercises, and mindfulness, promoting overall well-being and stress reduction. It can help improve flexibility, strength, and body awareness, which are all essential components of a healthy lifestyle.
The calorie-burning potential of yoga varies depending on the style and intensity of the practice. On average, a 155-pound person can burn around 144 calories in 30 minutes of practising yoga [^5]. To make yoga more effective for weight loss, opt for more vigorous styles, such as Vinyasa or Power Yoga, which involve flowing sequences and continuous movement. Additionally, incorporating mindfulness into your practice can help you develop a better relationship with food and make conscious choices that support weight loss.
8. Pilates: Strengthen, tone, and sculpt
Pilates is a popular exercise method that focuses on core strength, stability, and flexibility. While pilates may not be an aerobic exercise, it can still contribute to weight loss by building lean muscle mass and improving overall body composition. According to a study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise, a 30-minute pilates class can burn approximately 108 calories for a beginner and 168 calories for an advanced participant [^23].
Pilates exercises target the deep muscles of the abdomen, back, and pelvic floor, helping to improve posture and tone the body. By incorporating pilates into your fitness routine, you can strengthen your core, enhance muscular endurance, and improve balance. Whether you choose to attend group classes or follow online tutorials, consistency is key to seeing results from pilates.
Conclusion: Finding your perfect exercise routine
In conclusion, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to the best exercises for weight loss. The key is to find activities that you enjoy and can incorporate into your lifestyle consistently. Walking, jogging or running, cycling, weight training, high-intensity exercises, interval training, swimming, yoga, and pilates all offer unique benefits and can contribute to weight loss when done regularly and with proper intensity.
Remember, weight loss is a journey that requires a combination of exercise, healthy eating, and lifestyle changes. Weight loss occurs when you burn more calories than you consume. Thus, a calorie deficit is essential to losing weight. It’s important to set realistic goals, listen to your body, and seek guidance from health professionals or a personal trainer if needed. Stay motivated, be patient, and celebrate your progress along the way. With dedication and perseverance, you can achieve your weight loss goals and improve your overall health and well-being.
So, lace up your shoes, hop on your bike, or roll out your yoga mat. The best workout routine is the one that brings you joy and makes you feel alive. Embrace the journey and discover the power of exercise in your weight loss efforts.
: Harvard Health – Calories Burned in 30 Minutes of Leisure and Routine Activities : PubMed – Effect of Exercise Training on Visceral Adiposity Index : PubMed – Effects of Resistance Training on Resting Metabolic Rate : PubMed – Metabolic Equivalent of High-Intensity Interval Training : ACE Fitness – Caloric Expenditure During Pilates
NowPatient has taken all reasonable steps to ensure that all material is factually accurate, complete, and current. However, the knowledge and experience of a qualified healthcare professional should always be sought after instead of using the information in this page. Before taking any drug, you should always speak to your doctor or another qualified healthcare provider.
The information provided here about medications is subject to change and is not meant to include all uses, precautions, warnings, directions, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or negative effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a particular medication does not imply that the medication or medication combination is appropriate for all patients or for all possible purposes.
WHY WE BUILT NOWPATIENT
To improve the lives of everyone by making high-quality care accessible and convenient
We are here to improve lives. Our service gives you access to smart features and resources that can help empower you to take control of your health and improve your health outcomes. All this, in one place, for FREE. We strive to bring a fresh perspective to managing health. NowPatient can be accessed by downloading the App or using your web browser.
Download our app today
Can I trust NowPatient
Meet our medical review team
Trustworthy and reliable medical content authored and reviewed by our experienced team of medical professionals from the United Kingdom and the United States. Learn more about our team and our editorial process by clicking on the buttons below.