Have you ever wondered which weight loss exercises work best? When my patients ask me, “What is the very best exercise for weight loss?” here’s what I tell them:
It’s the One You Can Do: Most of my patients don’t love exercise and haven’t exercised in a long, long time. If this sounds familiar, the best place to start is with something you are physically capable of doing and to work up from there. If you’ve been inactive, before starting any new physical fitness program please remember it’s critical to have a complete medical checkup first and to review your plan with a medical professional.
It’s the One You Will Do: There is no use choosing a weight loss exercise routine that you don’t like to do and therefore are unlikely to look forward to or stick with long term. Think back to your childhood. What types of play did you like best? There are so many options. Swim, walk, hike, bike, play a team sport, or even play one of the new interactive video game systems like Wii, PlayStation Move, or Xbox Kinect. Whatever you choose, the best exercise to lose weight is always an activity you will truly enjoy.
It Depends on Your Age: Our metabolisms and body composition change over time, so it’s also important to consider your age when choosing exercises to lose weight. People in their 20s should focus mostly on resistance training, which will build muscle stores and increase metabolism. During your 30s and 40s, a plan that is evenly split between resistance training and cardio (fat burning) is the way to go. If you are over age 50 and have an hour to work out, it is best to do 45 minutes of cardio and 15 minutes of weights/resistance exercises. The cardiovascular activities help to prevent heart attacks and strokes, so they are more highly recommended in people over age 50. If you have a history of cardiovascular disease or a strong family history of heart disease, you should start cardiovascular activities as soon as possible regardless of your age.
It’s Not Just “Exercise:” The word exercise may conjure up mental images of aerobic classes, weight lifting machines, or running laps. But while those certainly are weight loss exercises, for many people it helps to stop thinking of exercise as something you do for a certain period of time so many times per week, and start thinking of it as the choices between inactivity and activity we make every day, all day long. Stand during the soccer match instead of sit. Pace while you talk on the phone rather than relax. Park at the farthest spot in the lot. Take the groceries into the house one bag at a time. Get the idea? Any movement is good movement and it all adds up.
Dr. Michael Kaplan
Founder and Chief Medical Officer