Is aerobic exercise helping me if I'm not losing weight?

Dawn Marcus
Frustrated that you’re not getting anything out of your exercise program when you hop on the scale and see your weight refusing to budge? Don’t despair! New research from the University of Sydney showed that important, harmful body fats do decrease with aerobic exercise -- even when your body weight doesn’t!

In this study, 19 sedentary, obese adults underwent four weeks of aerobic exercise bike training or a placebo control. The exercise group biked for 30-45 minutes, three times per week. The placebo group was instructed to do whole body stretches for 30 minutes three times per week. Everyone continued their usual diet during the study. After four weeks of aerobic biking, there was no overall change in body weight. There were, however, significant reductions in abdominal fat volume (12% decrease) and liver triglycerides (21% decrease). There were no benefits to fat levels or weight from the stretching program. Both abdominal fat and high liver triglyceride levels are linked to metabolic syndrome and increased risk for heart disease. So aerobic exercise helped improve cardiovascular health risk -- even when no overall weight loss occurred! This study does not mean that you should forget about doing stretching exercises -- stretching is essential to good muscle and joint health and very important for preventing injuries. But stretching alone isn’t enough to reduce harmful body fat levels -- you need to add in aerobic exercise!

So the next time you feel discouraged that you’re not losing weight as quickly as you’d like, remember, regular aerobic exercise is great for your health -- even when you’re not losing weight!

Movement of your body always helps but to what degree is an important point. For your cardiovascular system to improve it has to be sufficiently challenged. Challenging the cardiovascular system is dependent on a couple of things; your heart rate and your perceived level of exertion. Without specifically knowing your situation or your particular issues let's start by saying that you can in most cases begin walking with a heart rate monitor. Use this simple formula to determine your goal heart beats per minute take 220-(your age )and multiply that by .60 or 60 percent. Until you can maintain that number that you determined from this formula of heart beats per minute for a comfortable 30 minutes you are working hard enough. What that means is that you start walking you watch your heart rate monitor when it gets to the desired number plus or minus a few beats just hold that speed and intensity until you can no longer do it or until 30 minutes pass. When you can do this you can safely move up to a little higher difficulty. This will slowly but surely improve your cardiovascular fitness assuming that you continue to patiently progress.

To lose the desired weight you simply have to tie this exercise program to a smart eating plan. Eat less calories then you need every day and you will lose weight.

Many people will make statements such as, “I am having difficulty losing weight, but I run on the treadmill for 60 minutes.” Steady state exercise is not the best method for weight loss. In fact, research has shown that during long bouts of steady exercise the body will begin to hold on to fat stores and prevent them from being used as fuel.

To combat this, NASM recommends undulating periodization. With this type of training you mix high-intensity  workouts with low intensity longer duration workouts. For example, you can do 20 second repeated sprints on a bicycle for 10 minutes then follow that with a 10 minute jog. Furthermore, you can do high intensity short-duration exercise on Monday then Slow, aerobic exercise on Wednesday. The more you alternate the workouts the more confused the body gets. This allows you to train and enhance multiple parts of body systems creating the ultimate routine.

If you're not losing weight your body may have hit a plateau because you are doing the same routine. One way to lose more weight is through cardio interval training (for example, jogging at a moderate pace for 5 minutes, then increasing speed and incline for 1 minute and alternating between the two). Circuit training is also a very effective method. It is important to keep in mind that exercise goes hand in hand with diet. You need to be taking in less then you are expending in order to lose weight.

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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.