If you are looking to lose weight, exercise is the healthiest and most fun way to do so. The enjoyment of achieving a new training goal can bring as much satisfaction as losing the weight itself, and will bring many lifestyle benefits that diets alone cannot provide, such as an increase in your overall fitness levels. However, if you’ve been away from exercise for a while, knowing where to start can be something of a mystery, and not everyone can afford a personal trainer to guide them through. Here are five tips that will help you to move in the right direction.
Tip 1: Focus on non load-bearing exercise initially
The more weight you are carrying, the greater the force that you will exert on the floor when doing a load-bearing exercise such as running. Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, meaning that the more weight you are carrying, the greater the forces the floor will exert on your body. Therefore load-bearing exercises can be quite stressful on your body, making them difficult forms of exercise to practice for long sessions until your overall level of fitness is at a high level.
Non load-bearing exercises such as swimming however do not suffer from the same problems as your body doesn’t impact against a solid surface. Therefore the immediate stresses on your body will not be so great, thus allowing you to train for longer and more regularly during your first few weeks of training. Try to focus your initial training on non load-bearing exercises and then move onto load-bearing exercises once you have already lost some weight and built up your overall fitness levels.
Tip 2: Work the whole body
Exercise bikes can often be a favoured machine for people seeking to lose weight because they are non load-bearing. They can also seem like quite an ‘easy’ form of exercise, and there is a logical reason for this – because you are only training your legs, you are actually burning less calories than the equivalent level of effort on a rowing machine or a cross-trainer, which exercise the entire body. Therefore in terms of burning the highest number of calories per session, it is important to work as much of your body as possible.
Tip 3: Variety
Tip 2 does not mean that time on an exercise bike is wasted time. On the contrary, as part of the right programme it absolutely has its place. A varied training programme is beneficial for two main reasons. Firstly, doing different exercises and setting yourself different goals will be far more interesting than doing the same exercises day in, day out. Regular exercise is the key to weight loss, so keeping your interest in exercising as high as possible is crucial to motivate yourself to avoid skipping sessions or cutting them short.
The second factor is that different exercises work the body in different ways. Therefore by doing a variety of exercises, it is possible to work one group of muscles, then allow those muscles to recover whilst working a different group of muscles by moving onto a different exercise. Therefore varying your exercises helps you to train for longer and more regularly, and therefore is a crucial aid in your quest to burn more calories.
Tip 4: Intensity
It is easy to assume that the harder you train, the more fat you’ll lose and the more calories you’ll burn. However, whilst the latter is true (per minute at least), the former is not necessarily the case. This is because where your body takes it fuel from varies depending on the intensity of the exercise. At higher intensities (above 80% of your maximum heart rate, which as a general rule is 220 minus your age in years), your body actually burns less fat and more sugars to fuel your exercise. Over a prolonged period, this will raise your overall fitness levels, and the calories burned will help you to lose weight. However, by exercising at 65-80% of your maximum heart rate, you will burn a higher percentage of fat for every calorie burned. The lower intensity will burn less calories per minute though, so to maximise both fat burning and calorie burning it is necessary to train at this intensity for a longer period of time, rather than short, intense sessions that will burn the calories but less fat.
Tip 5: Do the things you enjoy!
Certain sports or activities might help you lose weight faster than others, but if you don’t enjoy the process (i.e. the sessions), will you really enjoy the results? Equally if you don’t enjoy your training, how will you motivate yourself to actually train regularly enough to achieve the desired results? Follow the four previous tips as closely as possible, but enjoyment of what you are doing is the most important factor in achieving your goals, and crucially maintaining your level of fitness once you have reached your weight loss goals. Therefore the best tip of all is to start with the sports and exercises that you enjoy most, and then use the tips above to help you to burn more calories and more fat whilst doing them.