How Much Exercise To Lose Weight

icon image fat man on couch how much exercise to lose weight

There’s no question that regular exercise along with a change in your diet is the way to lose weight and keep it off. And it’s hard to get around the fact that how much exercise to lose weight depends on what and how much you eat.

Smart dieters know that exercising burns calories, tones, tightens, and helps reduce appetites and food cravings. But never forget that consuming fewer calories is a must to lose weight.

The table below list an estimate of calories burned in an hour with various activities. Use the list to compare how many calories you burn with how many calories you are eating.

How Many Calories Does Exercise Burn?

Moderate to Intense Training Calories Burned in 1 Hour
Walking 300
Running 600
Cycling 600
Rowing 800
Jumping Rope 1000
Weight Training 200-300
Heavy Weight Lifting 440
Aerobics 480
Yardwork 300
Playing Vigorous Basketball 400-500
Dancing 350
Golf, walking and no caddy 330
Hatha Yoga 225

Exercise, Diet, and Weight Loss

Harvard Medical School indicates that you’ll need to burn about 3500 calories to lose one pound. Let’s say you are walking at a hard enough pace that you feel your heartbeat and are breathing hard. This fast or high-intensity pace is the route to burning fat and in an hour you could burn 300 calories.

That means you would need to walk at an intense pace for an hour a day 12 days to lose a pound of fat with all other factors staying the same.

But what if you cut your diet by 300 calories a day? 12 days would mean a 3600 caloric deficit. Add that to your walking and you could lose 2 lbs in less than two weeks. That fits in perfectly with the most effective long term weight loss being from 2-4 pounds a month.

Should I Work Out Every Day?

The short answer is no! The American College of Sports Medicine recommends working out no more than 5 days out of 7. Your body needs rest and time to recuperate and repair the normal damage of exercising.

In fact, overtraining can leave you with:

  • Continuing muscle soreness
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep problems
  • Injuries
  • Increased resting heart rate

It’s important to get your sleep to rest and recover from each training session. Working out always leaves tiny tears in muscle fibers that need time to repair. That repair time is how you gain muscle tone and strength which in turn leads to faster calorie burn.

A good workout should leave you feeling energized and refreshed. If not you are probably overdoing it. Compensate by slowing down the intensity level for a day or two, and then your body will be ready for a hard workout the next session.

Weight loss goal sheet infographic

Intensity Levels

The intensity of your workout is one of the factors in determining how much, or how long you spend exercising. If your trip to the walking track is strolling along with your children and counting the birds – all day is probably in order?

Intensity levels are generally referred to as light, moderate, and hard:

  • Light. Pretty easily carry on a conversation while walking with a friend.
  • Moderate. Can stay in the conversation, but notice your breathing and heart rate increasing.
  • Hard or Very Hard. There’s no doubt that your heart rate has increased and breathing is faster and takes more effort to keep going.

Hitting the sweet spot for burning calories and suppressing hunger means any physical activity that raises your heart rate up to about 75% of your maximum. This is usually going to happen at the high points of moderate intensity or low points of hard intensity levels.

The duration and type of exercise for weight loss plays a vital part in the number of calories you burn both during and after. The best options leave you burning calories for hours after returning to your regular routine.

Physical activity is crucial to weight loss, but if it’s creating more hunger than normal you will overeat. Overeating can make slimming down impossible no matter how much exercise you get.

Exercising and Gaining Weight

Nothing like starting your diet only to see the scales register a weight gain. That’s enough to make you throw in the towel, But Wait! Gaining weight initially is common, won’t last long, and is helping you get stronger to burn more fat in the long run.

Initially, your body is going through some pretty major changes as you cut your food intake, go from eating unhealthy to healthy foods, and work muscles that have been resting lately.

Common reasons you could be gaining instead of losing:

  • Exercise builds muscle.  Muscle weighs more than the fat it’s replacing. The good news is that muscle burns calories at a higher rate than fat uses energy. As the muscle increases it will naturally call on the fat stores for energy.
  • Fluid. Even though the first weight to leave your body on a diet is usually fluid, building muscle includes tearing down the microfibers of existing muscle tissue and then rebuilding it on rest days. Sometimes the micro-tearing increases water retention as it heals.
  • Overtraining. Sometimes we get overzealous and go from a couch potato to working out like we’ve been at it for years. Overtraining is doing too much too intensely before your body has a chance to adjust. Training too hard the first two weeks can definitely cause you to overeat.
  • Failing to Cut Calories. All weight loss requires eating fewer calories than you were before you started your diet. On the other hand, if you’re too ambitious and impatient to slim down and cut back too far — you won’t have the energy to workout.
  • Treating yourself with ice cream after a workout. This is a real common deterrent to shedding the pounds. The best treats are free of sugar and flour. Eat wisely, see results, and the motivation will carry you through.

Putting It All Together

Exercise Type

back of woman running for exercise to lose weightHere’s a key component of exercising: what type of training will you start doing, and how intense will your workouts be?

Doing high intensity Cardio will burn quite a few more calories than your normal walking routine, so you must consider how you will work out?

The thing about intensity and calorie intake is this:

The more intense the exercise, the more calories you burn. However, the more intense your workout – the more energy you’ll need.

Eating the right foods can help you cut calories and maintain energy levels at the same time.  A healthy diet that produces energy while cutting the calories keeps you in the best health possible and at your perfect weight.

Here’s a post on what to eat before you workout to keep your energy levels up.

I don’t know what types or intensity levels you’re up to doing, but generally speaking:

— Aerobics takes longer to impact your weight loss goals.

Fitness routines to lose weight like jogging, biking, treadmills, or elliptical machines usually take many more hours a week for meaningful impacts on your body.

However, I’m not trying to discourage you from these types of workouts, they are great for your weight and general health, just slower than anaerobic activities.

If your fitness level is up to it, sprinting, resistance training, interval training with HIIT techniques will simply be more effective. Check this post to learn more about losing weight with cardio training and running.

— Don’t Work Harder than Your Present Fitness Level

In order to safely engage in high-intensity training you’ll need to be fairly fit, or either make certain you do not try to accomplish the levels a more fit person would engage in.

In other words, take your time and learn to enjoy being more active while watching the pounds drop.

Check out this page at Harvard Medical School that list many different exercise types and how many calories you can expect to burn with each.

Calories Consumed and Calorie Quality

Calipers on sandwich counting calories to lose weightI think we all recognize that for any weight loss to occur you’ll need to consume fewer calories than you are using on a daily basis, right?

One thing to do is start keeping a record of the calories you consume each day.

Knowing how many calories you are eating along with how many you are burning is the Key To Maintaining A Healthy Weight.

Where Your Calories are Coming From is Important

When it comes to slimming down and your health, all calories aren’t the same. So, you’ll need to take into account that the source is just as important as the amount.

In other words, 1000 calories of fresh vegetables, meat, fish, fruits, and nuts are going to serve your efforts much better than 1000 calories from potato chips and sweet treats.

So, you can see that if you are aware of how many calories you ate daily to get you overweight, you can see that cutting them by degrees will give you a caloric deficit.

How many calories does it take to maintain my body and energy levels? And how many calories does it take to lose weight?

I’ve got a couple of methods to help you decide what your calorie deficit should be: one you calculate, the other with a calorie calculator.1. How to figure your own calories?

Get out your calculator and use this formula to determine how many calories it takes to maintain your present weight:

655 + (4.35 x your weight in pounds) + (4.7 x your height in inches) – (4.7 x your age in years)

I have always found that by cutting my calories by about 25% daily along with moderate exercise will cause me to lose from 1 – 1 1/2 pounds a week.

As far as I am concerned this is all I need to cut to stay healthy and maintain my energy levels.

Where to find a calorie calculator?

Here’s the best free online calorie calculator I know about and it will also indicate what your calorie intake should be to lose 1 pound and 2 pounds a week.

I highly recommend this calculator because it has tons of great information when it comes to your weight and calorie consumption.

Back to the point:

The fewer calories consumed, the less exercise to lose weight.

But in the end, you’ll have better and more permanent success eating a healthy diet and adding physical activity to your lifestyle.

What is Your Weight Loss Goal and How Quickly Do You Expect It?

Now, this is probably the most important variable: what is your own goal for losing weight and how quickly do you want it to happen. If you’re starting any diet with the hopes of dropping a few pounds, or a lot, without a plan — your efforts may be doomed from the start?

What is your goal? If it’s to lose about 5 pounds in a couple of months, that should be an achievable goal for most anyone just by changing your eating habits.

Shooting for no more than a couple of pounds a week may seem like a long time if you have a lot of extra weight. However, losing too fast almost guarantees that it will come back to haunt you again.

When you go slow you won’t feel so much like you’re depriving yourself, you’ll keep your energy levels and metabolism high as you train yourself new eating habits.

Exercise is Vital to Weight Loss and Health

Exercising 30 – 60 minutes a day a few days a week will not only make weight loss that much quicker, but it will also bring better health, lower blood pressure, and cholesterol.

On the other hand, if you plan to lose 25-30 pounds in that couple of months: you just changed the equation drastically, didn’t you?

You’ll need to turn to high-intensity exercising. You should also plan on taking care that you are drastically altering your eating habits for cutting the foods that got you overweight while eating foods to keep your energy levels up.

How to bring it all together and make the right exercise choices to lose weight?

I have gone over the most important variables and included both the calorie calculator and the list of calorie burn. These should give you a much better estimate of what to do to lose weight each day and week.

How much exercise you start with is going to hinge on:

  • Your fitness level
  • Calorie intake
  • Quality of food consumed
  • Type of
  • Intensity level
  • Motivation to get it done

I would say that the first thing to do is to take a realistic look at where you’re starting from and what’s required to lose the weight.  Decide on realistic goals and time frames and make a plan accordingly.

The main thing to remember is that to lose weight with no exercise takes longer, and accounts for the high failure rate. How much you need depends on your own goals and motivation to succeed.

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