Weight Loss Exercise Programs


What are the best weight loss exercise programs?  Is it quicker to lose weight through exercise, or through diet?  If you have a weight loss goal, then you are probably desperate to know the real answers to these pressing questions.  In truth, asking whether diet or exercise is the key to weight loss is like asking which came first, the chicken or the egg.  This is because the best exercise for weight loss goes hand-in-hand with sound nutrition practices; the most successful weight loss exercise programs rely equally on both of these components. 

Calories = Energy
Before learning more about the best exercise for weight loss, it is necessary to understand one basic rule about weight loss:  Calories equal energy, and weight loss depends on calories intake versus calories expenditure.  If calories are consumed but not spent by the body, they become stored as fat.  However, calories that have already been stored as fat are still energy, and can be burned through exercise.  So, to lose weight, one must burn more calories than he/she consumes.  This is done by:

  • Increasing calorie burn through exercise (both aerobic and strength training).
  • Decreasing calorie intake through a nutrient-dense diet that is low in excess fat and calories.

Scientists have proven that one pound of body fat equals 3,500 calories.  So, for example, if you have a deficit of 3,500 calories over a given week, you will lose one pound of body fat during that week.  Superior weight loss exercise programs will help you to safely lose up to two pounds of fat per week.

Exercising For Weight Loss
If there is one crucial fact about weight loss exercise, it is this:  the best exercise for weight loss is any exercise that you enjoy doing.  No matter how complex your exercise plan is, if you do not look forward to it, it will not help you reach your weight loss goals.  People who are planning weight loss exercise programs must choose activities they enjoy, in settings where they are comfortable. 

Aerobic (Cardio) Exercise
Aerobic exercise is invaluable for people with a weight loss goal, because cardio helps the body to burn large amounts of calories by utilizing the body’s major muscle groups.  The best exercise for weight loss is any continuous aerobic activity that uses both the upper and lower body – like rowing, cross country skiing, and swimming.  Other calorie-busting choices for weight loss exercise programs:

  • running
  • aerobics classes
  • cycling
  • bowling
  • walking at a quick pace
  • golfing (carrying your clubs)
  • inline skating

Strength Training For Weight Loss
The best exercise for weight loss plans also include strength training, which can be done with free weights, resistance tubes, or simply your own body weight (as in push-ups or pull-ups).  Many people who want to lose weight skip the strength-training component, for fear of “bulking up” and getting heavier.  While it is true that muscle weighs more than fat, it is also true that muscle cells are tremendous calorie burners.  In fact, muscle tissue is responsible for over one quarter of our daily calorie burn; increasing your muscle mass, increases your calorie burn (metabolism) – even while you are sitting still or sleeping!  In addition to increased calorie burn, building muscle helps to sculpt the body so that clothes fit better and the appearance is leaner and more defined.

The Academy of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends strength training 2 days per week, with 1 – 3 sets of 10 repetitions, and 8 – 10 exercises.  A sound strength-training program combines exercises that use all of the major muscle groups in the body, including the abdominals, legs, back, shoulders, chest and arms.

For more help in getting started with your weight loss goals, please see our other articles on health and fitness. 


As a precaution, you should speak to your doctor before starting any exercise program.


More than weight loss exercise programs on our benefits of exercise page

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