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Losing Weight With Exercise

The benefit of exercise is that while you are exercising, you will be burning additional calories over and above those that you have been using previously. Consequently, exercise will help to get rid of the additional weight you are carrying. If regular exercise and you have become strangers in the recent past, it is time to start getting yourself reacquainted with doing some exercise. However, it goes much more than actually burning off more calories when you are participating in an exercise because activity helps to speed up your metabolism as well. In essence, once you start a program of regular exercise, your body will burn more calories even when at rest, so that there will be an all-round improvement in the speed at which you are using up the calories. However, it is believed that anaerobic exercise is far more efficient for burning fat when you are at rest than is aerobic exercise. I will expand on the differences below.

What kind of exercise is best?

A definitive answer cannot be given to the question of what kind of training is best because to a large extent it will depend on what you want to achieve while getting rid of the excess weight. For example, while most overweight people are likely to be primarily interested in getting rid of their excess fat and not a great deal more, there will be some people who are equally interested in building their muscle. If you fall into this category, the exercises that you choose to do will be different from those that are just trying to shed the extra pounds of fat. As an example, if you are attempting to lose fat then, running or swimming would be better than lifting weights although of course, all three forms of exercise have significant benefits. You need to know what your primary target is before deciding what kind of exercise program is best for you.

There are essentially two different types of training, aerobic and anaerobic.

  • Aerobic exercise comprises of running or jogging, swimming, cycling and even walking. It is called Aerobic exercise because it includes the kind of activities that make you ‘out of breath,’ as aerobic_exerciseit works your lungs and speeds up your heart and you start breathing deeper as a way of replacing the depleted levels of oxygen in your body and blood. Aerobic exercise, and it is therefore generally better at burning fat than is anaerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise works as part of a fat burning weight loss plan because your body burns carbohydrates to provide the energy that you need. However, during extended periods of activity, your body starts to look for the stored fat to provide some of the necessary energy as well, hence the weight loss effect.


  • Anaerobic exercise, on the other hand, is the opposite, and does not get you out of breath or make you ‘puff and pant’. Falling into this category would be the weightlifting. As previously suggested, anaerobic exercise does not burn off the fat as quickly as does aerobic, but it does have the benefit that it is more useful for speeding up your metabolism, leading to the effect of burning more calories even when at rest. Anaerobic exercise will be almost entirely fueled by the carbohydrates in your body, and therefore, the fat loss effect is far less noticeable. It does, however, have the advantage of speeding up your metabolism.

You need to understand that there are situations where the two different forms of exercise tend to blur into one another. For example, if you start out walking slowly, then that is aerobic exercise, but if you begin to push your speed until you reach jogging and then running pace, the expansion and contraction of your muscles means that you are also exercising anaerobically as well as aerobically.

There are a couple more factors to bear in mind.

  1. Somewhat counter-intuitively, the heavier you are, the more calories, you will burn. As you will see from the table in the next subsection, while a 120-pound person will burn fractionally over nine calories per minute when jogging, an 180-pound person will use just short of 14 calories per minute doing the same thing.
  2. Even within a category of exercise, some forms of exercise are more effective for burning of fat than others. As an example, because of the effects of gravity, weight-bearing exercises such as jogging, running and walking are more efficient for burning fat than would be weight-bearing activities such as swimming or even cycling.

In both of these cases, the effects of gravity have little or no influence on the amount of work you need to do.

There are no excuses! No special equipment is needed.

The following table shows how many calories you burn per minute of exercise is taken from ACE Fitness Matters, Volume 1, Number 4, 1995:

Chart of Calories Burned Per Minute

So, if you are going to workout for 30 minutes, then you would take the figure from the table for whatever it is that you are planning to do, and multiply by 30 to calculate how many calories you will burn.

Note: According to the table, walking burns more calories than downhill skiing or cycling.

Although most people would probably be surprised by this, it does emphasize that walking is an extremely efficient form of exercise, which is good because it demonstrates that you do not need special equipment to begin an effective exercise program.

If you have not been doing any form of exercise recently, you should start slowly and build up gradually, but there is no reason and definitely no excuse for not starting to take exercise on a regular basis. If you’re serious about losing the extra fat, half an hour or even an hour of walking, every day should be a small price to pay. You should also note that the calories burned during exercise shown in the previous table doesn’t figure in the calories that you would have burned if you were doing something else. For example, if you are an 180-pound person who is running and, therefore, burning 17 calories a minute, you would need to subtract the calories that you have been burning doing something else from this figure to arrive at any meaningful net total of extra calories burnt.
Even if the alternative activity is nothing more strenuous than sitting on the couch watching the TV, you’re still burning 1.7 calories an hour according to the ‘Sitting quietly’ figure shown in the table. Thus, your net extra calorie burn is 15.3 calories a minute. I know that this might seem like a minuscule difference, but it is important to understand that there is a difference between gross and net calories burned.

Other important exercise considerations…

One thing that is often noticeable with people who have not been working out on a regular basis is that they are mechanically inefficient. Even with walking, if you have not been walking in any serious way in the recent past, the chances are that your walking ‘style’ and pattern is likely to be inefficient at first. Injuries and other physical injury are far more likely to happen in these early days. Don’t push too much in the beginning. Here is the most interesting thing about being mechanically inefficient in this way. Because you are expending energy on both the exercise that you are attempting to do and on making sure you do it properly, you will, in fact, burn more calories in these early days than later once you have acquired mechanical efficiency. To get some idea of what I mean by mechanical efficiency, think of Olympic race walkers. Could you seriously consider walking 50 km at the speed that these people do? An Olympic 50 km race walking champion can do it because they are mechanically efficient. Despite the fact that they look slightly absurd to the untrained eye, with their hips swiveling, arms pumping and walking at a speed that falls marginally short of a jog, it’s amazing to think that these people do know what they are doing. They do know because otherwise they would not be able to walk the distances and at the speeds that they achieve and maintain. Now, I’m not suggesting that you adopt the walking style of an Olympic race walker, but you should appreciate that in the early days when you first start exercising, you are mechanically awkward. Consequently, you will burn more fat calories because you are fighting your inefficiency and exercising at the same time. It follows that the more you exercise, the more efficient you will become and, therefore, the fewer calories you will burn