How should I exercise if I want to lose weight?

When you don't exercise, you don't burn extra calories. But skipped workouts hurt your weight loss efforts in another way: You're more likely to give in to temptation. Research reveals that physical activity boosts your brain's ability to resist tempting caloric fare. That's right, exercising not only helps you burn calories, it also makes it easier to say "no" to that chocolate cake.

James O. Hill
Nutrition & Dietetics
Changing the way you eat and exercising at least 45 minutes a day, seven days a week, are the best ways to lose weight. Only 9% of successful dieters lose weight through diet alone, and only 1% do it through only exercise. While it's a good idea to start exercising gradually with a short daily walk, most people need to exercise about one hour a day for long-term success.

Exercise is very important to your overall health. It is important for the purpose of maintaining functional strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular fitness however the process of losing weight is controlled by the total caloric picture. 

What this means is your calories in; when they are greater than what you need everyday you gain weight, when they are the same as what you need everyday you maintain weight and when they are less than what you need everyday you lose weight. To lose weight you simply must have an intake of calories that is less than what you need everyday. Exercise of course burns calories and gives you all the benefits listed above when done correctly and part of a smart fitness program but weight loss is totally dependent on the caloric intake/outgo picture.


A safe and effective exercise program for weight loss will have cardio and resistance training. Depending on your goal and how much weight you have to lose you should consider doing at least 30 minutes of cardio 5-7 days per week. If your present state of health and your schedule allows it, I would suggest getting up to 60 total minutes on at least 3 of those days. Remember, what is important, is that you make your body a fat burning machine so don’t worry if you cannot do all 60 minutes in one block of time because your schedule will not allow it. If necessary, you can break up the 60 minutes in the following manner: 20 minutes in the early am, 20 minutes at lunchtime and 20 minutes in the evening.

Next you must add resistance training to your weight loss plan. Basically, more muscle = higher metabolism! Higher metabolism = more calories burned all day long, even when your body is at rest. Resistance training 3 days a week will help burn more calories, improve posture, improve muscle imbalances and postural deviations, improve endurance, and of course add muscle tone. You should consult a qualifed fitness professional before starting any resistance training program. Since you are allready here on Sharecare, obviously my colleagues and myself would be happy to assist in putting together a program.

Bottom line: Eating well and doing your cardio will help you lose weight BUT a safe and effective resistance training program can be the difference between you looking “ok” and looking amazing!

You will achieve weight loss when you burn more calories than you consume. You can burn more calories by simply moving more. Exercising does not necessarily have to be going to a gym and running on a treadmill. If you have kids or grandkids try going outside more often and running around with them. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Simple things like that along with healthy eating will give you the results you are looking for.

Eric Olsen
Any activity will help you lose weight; the bottom line is to burn more calories than you consume. A weight-loss program that combines exercise with prudent eating is the most effective means of shedding pounds.

Resistance training may be the most effective means of weight loss and weight control; not only does resistance training expend calories during exercise, like any other activity, it also results in a greater energy expenditure after a workout is over. And the added muscle developed through weight training expends many more calories than fat tissue, even at rest.

Keep in mind that this desired result will -- and should -- come slowly. Don't weigh yourself after every workout expecting big changes; if it seems as if "it's taking forever" to lose that spare tire, that's probably a good thing. Crash diets and too-rapid weight loss are not only bad for your health, they almost invariably result in "rebound" and discouragement. Think of weight-loss as a very long-term goal.
Lifefit: An Effective Exercise Program for Optimal Health and a Longer Life

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Lifefit: An Effective Exercise Program for Optimal Health and a Longer Life

An easy-to-follow programme for lengthening and improving lives. More than an exercise guide, this text is an effective tool for making meaningful lifestyle decisions to benefit long-term fitness. In...

Exercise of any form, resistance training or cardiovascular exercise, provides the means to expend energy, creating potential for a negative energy balance that will result in weight loss.  

A great way to exercise is to perform a circuit training program. Circuit training consists of several stations in which the client performs an exercise for a set amount of time or repetitions. Once time or repetitions have been achieved, then the client moves on to the next exercise in the station. Circuits can have as few as 3 exercises but can be as much as desired.  

Circuit style resistance training may be better suited for burning calories and thus losing fat. Recently, several studies have compared the effects of circuit resistance training to traditional cardio forms of exercise. It was shown that circuit training was just as beneficial as traditional cardiorespiratory exercise for improving and/or contributing to improved fitness levels. The following benefits of circuit training were stated:

  • Produced equal to or greater caloric expenditure for the same given time span as cardiorespiratory exercise
  • Produced greater levels of calories expended after exercise
  • Increased overall strength.

Based upon this information, it appears that circuit training is a viable means for producing caloric expenditure, increasing strength levels, and maintaining or increasing fat-free  mass while cutting down on the overall time of a complete workout.   

There are three main components to helping you lose weight. First is your meal planning. Making sure you are getting the right amount of calories and nutrients for your day. Second is your cardiovascular training. Try to get at least 3 times a week at least 30 minutes for each session. Third is resistance training. Also try and get at least 3 times a week to workout those muscles. However the real goal of losing weight is making sure you are burning more calories than you are taking in to lose weight. The biggest thing you really have to do is hold yourself accountable to your goals and not make excuses why you can't workout today.

Any movement, above and beyond what you do currently will help you lose weight. Losing weight is a very simple formula (not necessarily a simple task), you need to burn more calories than you are eating. So if you are maintaining your current weight with your current activity level, than by eating less than you do now and moving more you than you do now, you should lose weight.

If you are new to exercise than try an activity you enjoy like walking with your iPod and listening to music, or dancing, or riding your bike, look for local aerobics class you can take or DVDs you can do at home. If you enjoy it, you are more likely to stick with it. Consistency is key. As you progress and you can add some resistance/strength training to your routine to build some muscle, which in turn will help you lose more weight.
If you want to lose weight, get a move on. Look for ways to be more physically active all day long, not just as part of formal exercise sessions. Look for chances to stand rather than sit down, and to walk rather than drive. Choose active recreation, like dancing or playing horseshoes, more often than the TV, computer or other sit-down entertainment. As a simple way to start tracking your movement, get an inexpensive pedometer and see how far you walk each day. A good goal is increasing your steps over time until you're taking 10,000 steps (5 miles) every day.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.