How does dieting compare to exercises for losing weight?
Dieting alone clearly works for weight loss, but including physical activity in you weight loss plan has many advantages. A study from January 2010 compared dieting alone to dieting plus aerobic exercise. The benefits for those who exercised in this study included lower blood pressure and cholesterol, better fitness, and improved insulin sensitvity, which lowers the risk for heart disease and diabetes. (1)
Which exercises for losing weight are the most effective? What is the best way to get started?
High intensity interval training is included in many current weight loss programs because it can burn many calories in a short amount of time. Muscle growth is much greater with this type of exercise than less intense exercise. For fat and weight loss, the advantage of having more muscle is that larger muscles will burn more calories all day long, even at rest.
Cardiovascular exercises (Cardio), performed at a moderate intensity, had been considered the best and safest way to burn fat and lose weight for many years. The reasoning? It’s easier to exercise at a lower intensity, so beginners can burn extra calories in a long aerobic workout without excessive stress or strain.
Research on obesity, fitness, and exercise has compared different exercise programs and their effects on weight loss. Studies have shown that both aerobic exercise and high intensity exercise help with weight loss, though faster improvement was seen in programs that included high intensity exercise. As you might expect, multiple studies found that the more calories you burn per week, the more fat you will lose.
Studies show that at least 45 minutes of moderate exercise per day is best both for weight loss and weight maintenance. See references (2-4).
For many people, a combination of high and moderate intensity exercise training will work the best both for weight loss and for improving physical fitness.
If you are just beginning, lower intensity aerobic exercises like walking or hiking may be an easier and safer starting point. If you are already an active person, you can include high intensity exercise in your training for muscle building and more rapid weight loss.
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