It’s no secret that maintaining a healthy weight is one of the keys to maintaining good overall health. It’s also no secret that eating a nutritious, balanced diet and getting regular exercise can help with weight management.
Quite a bit of information about good nutrition is available. But, when it comes to fitness activities – exercise – what approach can most efficiently help you lose weight? We have answers.
A good place to start is to choose activities you enjoy. When you do activities you like, you’re more likely to make them habits.
A neighborhood run, a brisk walk in the mall or a swim might be a good fit for you. A treadmill, exercise bike or rowing machine could be additional helpful approaches. You may enjoy the camaraderie and support at the local fitness center. Look for activities you can do year round, and maybe some seasonal activities you can rotate during the year.
What elements should you look for in your weight loss fitness activities? Look for activities that raise your heart rate and keep it up for about a half hour.
Here’s something to keep in mind. Research published in Current Biology suggests that doing the same activity for the same amount of time over the long term likely won’t help you continue to burn as many calories. You can reach a point where you’re doing the same activity but not burning as many calories as when you started.
Your body adapts to a fitness routine similar to when you learn a new job or skill. At first in your new job you have lots to learn and it takes a lot of energy. Over time you’ll likely get more comfortable with the work and become more efficient. Your body also becomes efficient doing the same activity over time and uses less energy.
FITT principle: Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type. Changing one of these activity factors periodically adds a challenge back into your body’s efforts. This forces your body to adapt to the new challenge and use more energy — burn more calories.
Changing one or two of these activity factors every four to six weeks will help you lose weight.
Note: Pay attention to your body. Doing an activity that causes physical pain may be causing injury. Back off.
HIIT approach: High-Intensity Interval Training.
A study at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse has found that high-intensity interval training is a real benefit for weight loss.
High-intensity interval training involves adding recurring brief bursts of higher effort into your fitness activity. For example, if your fitness activity is walking for 30 minutes, add a stretch of jogging for about 30 seconds every five minutes. You can increase the length of time you jog as your body gets used to it. Continue to work up to jogging for a minute and walking for four minutes.
As an option, make an all-out effort for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds and then repeat. Keep this up for four minutes, followed by a one-minute rest. Then repeat this four-minute effort four times.
Whatever activity you’re doing, after your high-intensity interval, you should be breathing hard.
Researchers found that study participants who did a 20-minute high-intensity interval-training workout burned 15 calories per minute. That’s about twice as many as the participants burned during a long run without high-intensity interval training.
The HIIT approach has a double benefit. You’ll burn calories during your fitness activity, plus, your body will continue to burn calories as it recovers during the rest of the day.
Before starting a new fitness activity, it’s a good idea to check with your health care provider to ensure your body is ready to safely take part in your activities. Your provider can also give you helpful weight-loss guidance.