Exercise and Fat Burning – Demystified (Part 1)
In this two part series, we’ll cover the facts behind exercise and weight loss. We expand on these basics in our popular ebook “7 Myths About Weight Loss, and the Top Proven Strategies to Overcome Them!”
How much exercise is enough? How hard do I have to work out to burn fat? Do I even have to exercise to lose weight?
These are a few of the most common questions that often get asked about exercise and weight loss. While the answers can be unique to each individual, there are enough commonalities that can get you started in the right direction if you are trying to lose weight and get in shape. Let’s take a look.
How much exercise is enough?
This depends upon one’s particular health and fitness goals. The amount of exercise an athlete needs to train for a particular sport or competition is going to be different than a mom with two kids trying to lose 20 pounds. Here, we’ll address the non-athlete.
Generally speaking, to get healthier, more fit or lose weight, following the U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines of “between 150 and 300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity per week,” is going to best answer the question. Since this is surely one of the areas where more is better, the range of physical activity recommended, indicates that more health-related benefits are realized by increasing the amount of cardiovascular activity. This increase should be done gradually by increasing the time, frequency, intensity, and type (variety) as one’s body adapts to the exercise.
Moderate-intensity physical activity is an activity that increases a person’s heart rate and breathing to some extent. Brisk walking, swimming, dancing, or bicycling on a level terrain are examples. Vigorous-intensity physical activity is an activity that greatly increases a person’s heart rate and breathing. Jogging, swimming continuous laps, or bicycling uphill are examples. These are aerobic activity examples. Further down we’ll look at resistance training.
It doesn’t matter how you split the time up during the week to get in the recommended number of exercise minutes. For example, this can be met through:
- 30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity 5 days per week or,
- 20-60 minutes of vigorous-intensity 3 days per week.
And, on a given day, it can be done in one continuous session or multiple shorter sessions (of at least 10 minutes).
If all this seems a little much, consider this:
- 3 to 4 sessions per week will still get you gains in cardiovascular capacity, and
- A minimum of 2 days per week is needed to maintain a level of cardiovascular health.
Just as cardiovascular exercise is good for heart health, so is resistance exercise good for bone and muscle health. (It has also shown to provide some indirect benefit to the cardiovascular system.) As we age, it becomes even more important to maintain strength and mobility vital to performing daily functions and enjoying a quality life.
The goal of resistance exercise is to train each major muscle group 2-3 days per week, using a variety of exercises and equipment. This can be done in the following manner:
- 2 to 4 sets of each exercise will improve strength and power,
- 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise will improve strength and power, while
- 15 to 20 repetitions of each will improve muscular endurance.
For each muscle group worked, it’s important that there be at least 48 hours between resistance exercise sessions to allow your body to repair itself to prevent injury from overuse.
Much like resistance training, flexibility exercise is also important to maintaining mobility by improving the range of motion your muscles move. To achieve this, stretching and flexibility exercises should be done 2-3 days per week. Even doing this just a few minutes can greatly help.
Neuromotor exercise is just a fancy name for improving one’s motor skills, especially balance, agility, and coordination. While this can be done a number of ways, some of the more popular forms are through yoga and tai chi. This type of exercise should also be done 2-3 times per week. Another alternative, for balance, in particular, is to do some resistance training on one leg. This saves time, advances the exercise and combines two tasks at once. Just make sure to start slowly.
Breaking all this down, an optimal exercise program might look like this:
- Cardiovascular exercise 3-4 times per week; alternating days with
- Resistance exercise 2-3 times per week; adding
- Flexibility and neuromotor exercises 2-3 times per week into the days you do your cardio or resistance training.
When starting an exercise routine, try just 1 day of each and increase as you adapt, and most importantly, remain committed!
In Part 2, we dive into burning fat, weight loss, and some common myths around that.
Check out our 7 Myths About Weight Loss and the Top Proven Strategies to Overcome Them, if you haven’t already. To read Part 2 now, click here.