Another common question: “What’s the best exercise for weight loss/maintenance”. The simple answer to this is “whatever you do that is exercise and do it consistently!” Any exercise will help to contribute to the energy deficit required to lose weight (burning more calories than you consume). Generally, the more vigorous (intense) the exercise, the more calories you will burn within a specified time period. For example, 30 minutes of walking burns approximately 180 calories (in 180 pound person). That same person, however, will burn about 444 calories running (6.0 mph) for the same amount of time. In addition, researchers have discovered that vigorous exercise affects our metabolisms at a DNA level. They found specific changes on cellular metabolism with vigorously exercising 3 days per week for at least 35 minutes in duration. Here is a link that summarizes this study http://www.npr.org/2012/03/09/148306989/a-workout-can-change-your-dna. Bottom line, there is no ones specific exercise that is best for weight loss. The exercise program should be executed frequently enough to affect weight loss (at least 3-4 times per week, ideally 5) and should have an intensity sufficient enough to make improvements to the metabolism. Finally, the studies show that the exercise session should have a duration of at least 35 minutes.
I know. You are probably thinking “There is no way I can run to achieve my weight loss goals”. Relax! There are a variety of ways you can achieve vigorous intensity exercise without running. Great examples of these include aerobics (like Zumba), lap swimming, aqua aerobics, elliptical training, kick boxing, boot camp classes to name a few. For some people, walking briskly puts them right where they need to be! Also, don’t expect to be able to achieve 35 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise on your first attempt. Start small. Try intervals of 1 to 2 minutes every 5 minutes for starters. As you get in better shape and as it feels easier to do, lengthen your vigorous intervals and shorten your slower intervals. This really works! Before you know it, you will be accomplishing vigorous exercise comfortably.