When you are trying to lose weight, regular exercise will boost your calorie burn and help you reach you goals. However, knowing how long you should exercise and how often you need to work out can be more difficult to determine. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) provides detailed guidelines regarding just how much exercise is necessary for losing weight, which will help you plan a workout schedule.
Exercise burns calories, which is the main benefit when trying to lose weight. The greater the caloric deficit you create each day, the more potential there is for you to lose pounds and see changes on the scale. Exercising often is important when trying to lose weight, and doing so will also increase your fitness level. Increased fitness will improve your body’s ability to sustain longer, more intense activity, which is essential as you progress through your weight loss journey. As you lose weight you will need to continue to challenge yourself through more intense exercise in order to see results and meet your weight loss goals.
Previous exercise guidelines made physical activity recommendations based on a number of days per week. The most current research-based recommendations from the ACSM, released in 2009, suggest exercise amounts by minutes per week. Adults who wish to lose moderate amounts of weight should engage in 150 to 250 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week. This breaks down to a 25- to 42-minute workout session, six days per week. More significant amounts of weight loss are possible with workouts that last more than 250 minutes per week. Exercising for 250 to 420 minutes per week will increase your ability to achieve a 3 percent loss of total body weight necessary to reduce health risks.
Moderate-intensity activities are most often associated with cardiovascular exercise. This type of exercise is important for burning calories and should make up the bulk of your workout time. Recommendations for exercise time are based on moderate-intensity exercises such as brisk walking and water aerobics; however, vigorous activities are beneficial to your weight loss efforts and cardiovascular fitness. Engage in activities such as running, singles tennis and step aerobics, and alternate these activities with moderate intensity activities throughout the week.
The ACSM also recommends incorporating strength training into your workout routine to tone the body by decreasing fat mass and increasing muscle mass. Incorporate weight lifting, using exercise bands or participate in a muscle conditioning class at least two times per week as part of your workout schedule. In addition, mind body exercise can improve strength, flexibility and mental wellbeing, all beneficial for weight loss. Incorporate one or more sessions of yoga or Pilates into your workout routine each week for exercise variety, and physical and mental benefit.
It is tempting to take the numbers associated with exercise for weight loss and create a weekly workout plan you aim to stick to. However, other factors should be considered. You should not force yourself to do an activity, or exercise in an atmosphere, that you do not truly enjoy. There are too many options available and if you don’t like what you are doing you will not stick with it no matter how hard you try. Select the type of atmosphere that best suits you. Some people enjoy a gym, others outdoors. Some thrive while exercising alone, others with a group. Many people prefer a combination of all these things, and if so, your workout plan should reflect that. If you dislike lifting weights, try a muscle conditioning class with a group. If you don’t like to run, try a group cycling class or swim laps at the pool. Find the activities you enjoy and choose a variety of them to keep you motivated to stick with your program and lose weight.
You don’t need to exercise every single day to get weight loss results. In fact, it is beneficial to both your physical and mental health to incorporate rest days into your routine. Select at least one rest day each week. This doesn’t mean you must won't do any physical activity, just take a break from structured exercise. This will allow your body to recuperate and renew your motivation. You can reduce your risk of overtraining and the potential that the need for exercise will become a source of stress in your life. When it comes to strength training skip at least one day between full body workouts to allow your muscles to repair themselves and grow stronger.
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.