How Much Exercise To Lose Weight

There’s no question that regular exercise along with a change in 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 burned with how many consumed.

How Many Calories Does Exercise Burn?

Moderate to Intense TrainingCalories Burned in 1 Hour
Jumping Rope1000
Weight Training200-300
Heavy Weight Lifting440
Playing Vigorous Basketball400-500
Golf, walking and no caddy330
Hatha Yoga225

Exercise, Diet, and Weight Loss

Harvard Medical School indicates that people 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 could burn 300 calories.

That means you needed 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 7-9 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 result in:

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

It’s important to get adequate sleep needed to recover from each training session. Working out always leaves tiny tears in muscle fibers and you need time to repair those tears. That repair time builds 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.

Intensity Levels

Workout intensity is one of the factors in determining how much, or how long to exercise. If your trip to the walking track is strolling along with 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 the 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 exercises for weight loss plays a vital part in the number of calories burned both during and after. The best options keep burning calories for hours after finishing regular routine.

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

Exercising and Gaining Weight

Nothing like starting a diet only to see the scales register a weight gain. That’s enough to make anyone 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 food intake diminishes, eating goes from unhealthy to healthy foods, and muscles that have been resting lately are activated.

Common reasons for 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 the body 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 overeaing.
  • Failing to Cut Calories. All weight loss requires eating fewer calories than used. On the other hand, if you’re too ambitious and impatient to slim down and cut back too far — there won’t be enough 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.


Putting It All Together

Exercise Type

The type of training and intensity levels makes a great deal of difference in calorie burn.

Doing high intensity Cardio will burn quite a few more calories than a normal walking routine, so considering the workout type and intensity is crucial to how much exercise you need.

The thing about intensity and calorie intake is this:

The more intense the exercises, the more calories burned. However, the more intense – the more energy needed.

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

Here’s a post on what to eat before you workout to keep 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 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 exercise types and how many calories you can expect to burn with each.

Calories Consumed and Calorie Quality

I think we all recognize that for any weight loss to occur consuming fewer calories on a daily basis is a must.

One thing to do is start keeping a record of the calories consumed 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 health, all calories aren’t the same. So, taking into account that the source is just as important as the amount is vital to the process.

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

Being aware of the daily caloric intake that brought on the excess weight, and 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 is self calculating and the other with a calorie calculator.

How to figure your own caloric intake without a calculator?

Get out a 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 caloric intake should be to lose 1 pound and 2 pounds a week.

I highly recommend this calculator because it has tons of great information.

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.

Going slow and steady means you’re not depriving yourself of the food you need while keeping energy levels and metabolism high.

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, planning to lose 25-30 pounds in that couple of months changes the equation drastically?

You’ll need to turn to high-intensity exercising and a focus on drastically altering eating habits will be a must.

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 provide a good 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 for most people to do is take a realistic look at where they are 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 exercise needed depends on your own goals and motivation to succeed.

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