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The Best Exercise to Lose Weight

Looking to shed those extra pounds? Burn more calories with the right exercise.

Is there an exercise that ranks number one for weight loss? If there is such an exercise, would you do it? Weight loss essentially happens when there is a calorie deficit. This means your body burns more calories than it consumes. And yes, there are certain workouts that burn more calories than others.

For example, a 145-pound person who swims the breaststroke for half an hour will burn 400 calories. The same person who walks for 30 minutes will only burn about 180 calories.

But the question is, which exercise will you do? Do you enjoy swimming or would you rather walk? Knowing that cross country skiing burns a high number of calories doesn’t mean you’ll do it. And what good will that do you? However, if you find an exercise you enjoy, you’re more likely to stick with it and burn those calories.

Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live. - Jim Rohn

What Type of Exercise?

Cardio, strength training, and flexibility exercises. While they’re all important parts of a well-balanced exercise routine, it’s the cardio (aerobic) exercise that burns more calories. It will help you lose weight the fastest, while building muscle and improving your overall health.

There are lots of options when it comes to cardio: running, walking, elliptical, bicycling, cross-country skiing, swimming, rowing, kick boxing, Zumba, active Yoga, dancing, step aerobics, and jump rope—to name a few. While one of these may burn more calories than another, it doesn’t mean that is the best exercise for you. Choose an exercise you enjoy, that you have access to, and that fits your fitness level.

Better yet, try cross-training. Performing a range of activities during your exercise routine will help prevent boredom. After all, who wants to run on the treadmill every day? Cross-training is also great for your body: you’ll work different muscles and will be less likely to sustain an injury from overuse.

Burn More With Cardio

Once you’ve decided on the exercise (or exercises) that are the best fit for you, try doing them in an interval-style. Interval training burns more calories than a non-interval workout. It may sound complicated, but it’s simple. Interval training involves alternating between moderate intensity exercise and high intensity exercise. Take jogging for example. To add interval training to your regular jogging routine, jog as you normally would for a few minutes to warm up, then sprint for a minute, return to jogging to recover, then sprint. Repeat for the length of your workout.

Interval training creates an afterburn effect by raising your metabolic rate hours after your workout. This allows you to continue burning calories throughout the day.

How Much Cardio for Weight Loss?

To lose one pound, you must burn 3,500 calories. If your normal workout burns only 200 calories, it’ll take about 18 workouts to lose a pound. However, if you reduce the number of calories you consume each day by 200, then it’ll only take nine workouts to lose a pound.

With weight loss in mind, aim for at least three hours each week of moderate-intensity cardio exercise. If you’re a beginner, aim for an hour and increase each week. Overdoing it in the beginning will lead to exhaustion, sore muscles, and even injury—all recipes for a short-lived fitness routine. Try alternating days of endurance cardio exercises with days of high-intensity interval training. Be sure to include strength-training exercises two to three days a week.

Boiling It Down

So which exercise will burn the most calories? Whatever exercise you’ll stick with. If you’re able to cross-country ski and love to do so, that’s great. You’ll burn a lot of calories. If you’d rather do the elliptical trainer at the gym, that’s great as well. Whatever exercise you choose, stick with it and you’re sure to see results!