Are you looking to shed a few pounds? It’s not easy to lose weight by simply working out. Kevin Hall, chief of integrative physiology National Institutes of Health (NIH), explains that most people eat so many calories each day that they would need to exercise a lot to lose weight.

However, this doesn’t mean that physical activity should be neglected in your efforts to lose weight. Research shows that combining exercise with diet changes is the best way to lose unwanted weight. One study that looked at 439 overweight or obese postmenopausal females found that exercising in conjunction with diet helped to lose significantly more body weight than those who only ate.

Exercise appears to be the key to keeping your weight off after you have lost it. Hall and other NIH researchers examined contestants on the reality TV series .The Biggest loser to find that people who exercised regularly were more likely to maintain their weight loss six years later.

The National Weight Control Registry, a database that includes more than 5,000 Americans who have lost significant weight and maintained it, supports the combination approach. Surveys showed that 98 percent of participants had modified their diets, and 94% increased their physical activity. For maximum weight loss, exercise is a key component of your overall health. Experts have tips for you on how to set up your workout to maximize your “caloric offset” and what activities to do together.

Try to get at least 50 minutes per day. It works.

The bad news is that many people unknowingly compensate for the calories burned by exercise by eating more calories and moving less. A new study shows how to avoid this caloric-compensation trap.

Researchers at the University of Kentucky recently discovered that if you exercise enough (300 minutes per week), you can still lose weight and reduce fat.

The 2020 study saw the researchers assign one group of overweight people to exercise 6 days per week for 40-60 minutes or 240-360 minutes per week and another group to exercise at least 180 minutes per week. The exercise increased calories, and both groups consumed more calories. However, the first group lost significantly more weight. Researchers speculated that the participants consumed enough calories to compensate for the increased eating.

Increase your heart rate (without going crazy)

Deborah Riebe, a professor of kinesiology from the University of Rhode Island, said that to lose weight, you must burn more calories than you eat. Walking at a slow pace is a sign that you aren’t burning calories.

Swimming, biking, and running can all help to increase your calorie burn. Hour-long cardio classes at the gym can also be a good option. Riebe suggests that you can increase your calorie output by increasing the pace. “The more you work, the more calories are burned in a shorter time.” One caveat? According to the American College of Sports Medicine, doing too much too fast can increase your risk of fatigue and soreness, as well as make it more likely that discouragement and burnout will occur.

Joseph Signorile, professor at the University of Miami’s department of kinesiology and sports sciences, suggests that you should always start slowly if in doubt. He also recommends that you gradually increase your intensity to avoid being injured.

Strength training (every other day, for life)

Lifting weights can help you lose weight, in addition to cardiovascular exercise. Iowa State researchers published a study in June 2021 that found middle-aged adults who exercised at least twice per week were 20-30 percent less likely to become obese.

What could it be? After the age of 30, your muscle mass decreases by 3 to 8 percent per ten years. Riebe states that the rate of muscle loss accelerates after age 50. Fat burns fewer calories than muscle, so your metabolism will slow down, and you’ll burn fewer calories each day. Riebe states that losing weight can lead to more muscle loss. Resistance training can be a great addition to your workout routine.

High-intensity intervals (slow to fast walking counts)

Stephen J. Carter, a cardio physiologist at Indiana University, states that short bursts with intense exercise are a proven way to get more from your workout. Then follow up with slower, more demanding work. Research shows that high-intensity interval exercise, or HIIT, can help you lose more fat than if your workout is continuous and steady.

Carter suggests that you alternate between walking for three mins at a leisurely pace, then moving at a fast pace for one minute. You can also do similar intervals while riding a bicycle. It doesn’t have to be intense. He says it is sufficient to go at a slower pace than what you can sustain for long periods of time.

Studies have shown that HIIT can be used to burn fat and increase insulin function. It can also reverse aging at the cellular level. Research has shown that HIIT can temporarily increase your resting metabolism so that you continue to lose fat even after you’re done.

Sit less and move more (and set reminders)

Even if you exercise regularly, there is evidence that prolonged sitting increases your risk for obesity, diabetes, and cancer. It won’t help you lose weight. Riebe states, “If you exercise for 30 minutes at the gym, it’s fine. But if you sit around all day, the exercise you did from a caloric standpoint won’t mean anything.”

Experts recommend that you include physical activity in your day. This could be anything from doing squats during TV commercials to setting step goals or using a fitness app to track your steps.

Hall suggests that instead of focusing on weight loss, focus on getting more exercise and making lifestyle changes that are easy to implement every day. If you do these things, the chances of losing weight will increase.

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