Studies now agree that exercise is essential for weight loss, and for keeping weight down once the ideal has been reached. As part of a healthy lifestyle, exercise has many benefits, and there are good reasons for maintaining an exercise regime even if you are not overweight.

There are many different types of exercise for weight loss, including aerobic exercise, strength training, and ‘stamina’, where the two types of exercise are combined in ‘interval’ training.

AEROBICS – sometimes known as cardio exercise, this activity raises the heart rate, which causes the body to burn more energy. In order to work to the best of its powers, aerobic exercise must be performed at least five times a week, for around 20 minutes a time, in order to maximise the fuel-burning time.

There are many different ways to achieve an aerobics workout – treadmills and stationary bikes, for example; running is perhaps the most commonly used form of aerobic training, although it does carry a higher risk of injury.

STRENGTH TRAINING – this improves and increases muscle mass and metabolism through exercise. Building muscle is a very necessary part of weight loss, as muscles burn calories faster than other types of cell in the body; they are a significant part of maintaining weight loss after a diet has ended.

Strength training is often done with weights or using resistance bands (strength training is often known as resistance training). Without weights or exercise machines, the body itself can be used as the resistance device, for example in squats, steps, push-ups, and other floor exercises.

STAMINA – Often known as interval training, it is often used in order to improve the cardiac health of a person, and to improve their strength and muscle mass.

Sports that combine aerobics and strength training include activities such as

• Martial arts such as tae bo or kickboxing
• Hiking or hill climbing
• Swimming
• Boxing
• Basketball
• Baseball etc

Another way to combine the two types of exercise for weight loss is to use interval training, which combines aerobics and strength/weight training in the same exercise program. For example, 8 seconds of high-intensity training on a bike, followed by 20 seconds of moderate intensity, for example sit ups or bicep curls. The body expends a lot of energy in the high-intensity sessions, and then ‘recovers’ during the lower intensity activity; this is considered useful in preventing injury, and the body also burns calories faster during interval sessions, so that 20 minutes of interval work can burn as much fat as 40 minutes of single intensity exercise.

There is some evidence to suggest that using both types of exercise for weight loss actually helps people to eat less; aerobic and strength training together cause people to consume less food – aerobics users only may stop eating fat, but they often replace this with other foods, and strength training only doesn’t affect the diet at all – so a combination of these well-known types of exercise for weight loss also results in the best changes in diet, too.

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