People struggle to lose weight and keep weight off; it is one of the major problems of the western world, and can lead to heart failure, serious chronic illnesses such as diabetes, and has been linked to certain types of cancer. Losing weight is therefore essential, and exercise is probably the best way of doing this; but many people feel confused and intimidated by the idea of exercising.

One of the first questions they have is how much exercise for weight loss is necessary? Most of us exercise without knowing it, as even every-day activities burn calories; but not enough to help the body lose weight. Effective programs exist which are designed to help keep weight loss going, but don’t answer the vital question: how much exercise should I do to lose weight at a suitable pace?

The average person should not lose more than one or two pounds of body fat each week in order to keep healthy. Excessive and sudden weight loss may backfire, and cause the body to ‘starve’ itself; slower weight loss than this and a large meal may easily result in no weight loss at all.

In order to lose around one pound of fat per week, it is estimated that the body needs to burn 4,000 calories; this is aside from the regular ‘burning’ which the body does every day. Therefore, in order to maintain a weight loss of one pound per week, a person will need to exercise enough to burn off 500-600 calories a day.

Having worked out how many calories need to be burned in exercise every day, now we need to consider much exercise for weight loss this calorie burning requires.

Walking and other day-to-day exercises burn around 15 calories per pound of body weight. For each mile walked, the body burns around 100 calories – so 5 or 6 miles would need to be walked every day in order to lose that weight, a rather daunting prospect.

Good weight loss advice often concludes by suggesting that people should exercise for around half an hour every day. This is suitable for improving and maintaining health, but weight loss requires more effort. Studies have revealed that people who exercise for around 275 minutes a week lose more weight, and keep it off, than those who do less. This relates to 60-90 minutes of exercise every day. This regime would include some form of aerobic exercise such as bike-riding, swimming, or walking, and a period of ‘other’ exercise, the most beneficial being weight training.

When considering how much exercise is needed for beneficial weight loss, it is also worth considering the starting weight; the more pounds a person has, the more calories they will burn, just by standing still. However, for people struggling with weight loss, it is important to consider whether more exercise for weight loss would be a good idea. Of course, how much exercise for weight loss is done depends upon the willingness of the person exercising, but in general, four hours a week of exercise is the least amount of exercise needed to lose weight and keep weight off.

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