Monday, October 25, 2010

What Type of Exercise is Best for Weight Loss?

If you are trying to lose weight exercise is important.

Physical activity is proven to increase your ability to do the activities of daily living (diet alone will not provide this benefit).

Many people wonder what type of exercise they should be doing in order to lose weight...

Cardio or strength training?

Both types of exercise are important and burn calories.

However, when you are talking weight loss the answer is Cardio.

For weight loss, you need to be eating less calories than you burn. Since your body is in a calorie deficit, it can not build muscle, regardless of how much protein you eat.

Muscle building requires you to eat enough calories and protein.

You can still choose to lift weights because it does burn calories but you will not be able to increase your strength as long as you are on a limited calorie diet.

How much exercise do I need?

First you have to know the difference between moderate and vigorous intensity physical activity...

Moderate intensity activity means you can talk but you can not sing.
  • Walking 3 miles per hour (20 minutes/ mile)
  • Ballroom dancing
  • Doubles Tennis
  • Biking less than 10 miles per hour
  • Golfing without a cart
  • General gardening

Vigorous intensity activity means you can not talk easily.
  • Racewalking, jogging, running
  • singles tennis
  • aerobic dancing
  • biking greater than 10 miles per hour
  • heavy gardening

Do you have to work out all at once or can you break it up?
  • Its best to spread you activity throughout the week. 
  • At least 3 days per week is best.
  • As long as you work out for at least 10 minutes per session, you can break up your workouts into three 10- minute bouts per day.

Physical activity needs for general health benefits:
Health benefits are seen in those who do at least 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous intensity physical activity.
  • In other words, you can work out half as long if you do vigorous intensity activity 

For weight loss:
150-225 minutes per week or 30 minutes 7 days per week will help provide a moderate weight loss of about 4-6 lbs (takes a few weeks). 

225-420 minutes per week or 30-60 minutes 7 days per week will help provide significant weight loss of 10- 15 lbs (takes a few weeks).

In other words, the more you do the more you lose.

How much exercise do I need to maintain weight loss?

Even though your calorie level increases once you reach the weight maintenance phase, your physical activity should not be forgotten!

It is a proven fact that people need to do 200-300 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week in order to maintain their weight loss or their current healthy weight in adulthood.

What you should do before you start working out...
  1. Ask your doctor if you are able to work out. You may have activity restrictions. Please do not start a program without talking to your doctor.
  2. Make a plan. 
    • You may not be able to jump straight into a vigorous intensity work out. 
    • Start walking 2-3 minutes at a time and work your way up to the 10 minute goal.  

If you want to join Wilson's Total Fitness with me, please let me know. My patients may be able to receive a discount!!!


  1. Leah,

    I love your blog!!!!!

    Cousin Bilby here and did you know I am an avid bike rider? This summer of riding, which I consider over now due to the colder weather, I completed 2 'Centuries' for the first time ever. That's bike lingo for a 100 mile ride in a day. This is my third year of riding and I totally agree with all that you wrote. Now, I have to exercise inside, bummer. I don't run anymore due to my back hurting. So, I bike ride and have really gotten into great shape. I need your advice on how to maintain my endurance during the winter months so that I am not totally starting from scratch in the spring.



  2. Hey Billy!

    Its good to hear that we are both on the same page. I'm proud of your bike riding! My best advice on how to maintain your endurance would be to use the stationary bike as if it were your normal bike and use programs that have a variety of terrains. Exercise is not my "expertise" though so you may wana check with a personal trainer. It was good to hear from you!