What You Need to Know about Exercise for Weight Loss

We’ve all heard about how important exercise for weight loss is. We’re told that if we eat right and exercise regularly, the pounds will melt away. But how many people have tried that and find that it just doesn’t work- at all? This is the biggest reason so many people give up on their diets or weight loss, or both.

However, before you toss in the towel on your new exercise regime, there are a few things you need to know. First, there is more to the equation than just exercising. You also need a balanced diet that suits your body type, physiology and genes. What does this mean? Well, some people think “diet” means “calorie restriction” but this is not always the case. In fact, restricting your calories too much can actually hinder weight loss.

Often people fail to lose weight because they don’t take in enough fat. Eat fat to lose weight? Am I crazy? No actually, we’re talking about healthy fats and everyone needs some in their diet to maintain a balanced diet. If you’re restricting yourself completely from healthy fats, you could be hindering your weight loss progress.

Here are some other things you need to know about exercise for weight loss.

Exercise Is Only Part of the Equation

As we said before, it’s not all about the exercise. You also have to eat right. In addition to diet, getting enough rest at night and drinking plenty of water are important. A healthy diet from the beginning full of plenty of water (at least 8 glasses a day and more in hot weather and when you exercise) will put you on the right path to weight loss.

It’s much easier to cut 1,000 calories from a heavy diet than it is to burn 1,000 calories in exercise. So adjusting your diet where appropriate in addition to exercise will give you optimal results.

Then there is also the mental aspect of weight loss. Your emotional state has a huge impact on your success. Are you dealing with emotional problems that might have caused your weight gain in the first place or that could be blocking your path to success?

Exercise is Essential for Weight Maintenance

If you achieve your weight loss goals, you have a lot to be proud of. You should take time to properly celebrate and appreciate this accomplishment. However, you also need to continue to exercise in order to maintain this weight loss and new healthy lifestyle.

This is where a lot of people mess up. They begin to see results and see the weight dropping off and then they start to slack off. They think that because they’ve lost a few pounds that they can skip the exercise occasionally and it won’t make a difference but it does. You need to exercise regularly to maintain a healthy weight.

Another problem with this way of thinking is that once you begin skipping a routine here and there, it’s very easy to do it more often. Before you know it, you might give it up completely and the pounds will slowly start coming back before you even have a chance to reach your weight loss goal.

Some people do great and they workout and eat healthy until they reach their desired weight. Then, they start to slip. They believe that because they have reached their weight loss goal that they can begin skipping the exercise routine. In addition, they believe that it won’t hurt to have a few donuts or similar treats every now and then. The problem is that it will be easy to fall back into the same routine that caused you to be overweight to begin with and eventually, you’ll be right back where you started.

If you want to keep the weight off or continue losing weight, you must stay active through exercise and eat healthy all the time.

Cheating On Your Diet Can Hinder Your Efforts

Many people make the mistake of thinking that because they undergo strenuous exercises that it earns them the right to cheat on their diet. They believe that they have burned enough calories that it will more than make up for the extra food intake so they cheat on their diet. The problem is that we’re not always burning as many calories as you might think.

Just because you leave the gym sweaty and exhausted, doesn’t mean you’ve burned enough calories to have an extra big slice of chocolate cake or eat that bag of chips that taste so good. In reality, you probably haven’t even burned away enough calories to make up for the extra large proportion of food you ate at your regular meals.

If this is the case, then cheating on your diet can hinder your efforts even more and keep you from losing weight. Most people tend to overestimate the amount of activity they do and underestimate the amount of food they eat. For this reason, they believe that after a good workout, they can afford to cheat a little and this prevents them from losing weight.

Don’t Depend Solely On Your Exercise Machines

With all the new technology available today, most new treadmills, elliptical and other exercise machines monitor and record the calories you burn as you exercise. This is a great motivational tool to help you push harder as you see results but it should not be used as a way to determine your calorie intake and here’s why.

While the monitor is recording how many calories you are burning while exercising, it doesn’t subtract the amount of calories would be burning if you were not exercising. For example, if you were not exercising you would still be burning calories, just not as much. If the monitor says you burned 300 calories during your workout but you would have burned 100 calories cleaning house if you were not exercising, in reality, you only burned 200 calories.

Therefore, to get a true reading you need to subtract the amount of calories you would normally be burning from the amount of calories on the monitor and that’s what you should base your calorie intake on.

Stay Active

Any amount of exercise is good for you and better than not doing anything. If you take the stairs at work instead of the elevator or park your car a little further away from the door when you go shopping, it will help to improve your health with time. However, if you truly want to lose weight, you need to stay active all the time.

You can’t expect a 20 to 30 minute exercise workout per day to make you lose weight if the rest of the time, you’re completely inactive. Now, this doesn’t mean that you should be doing exercises every free minute of your day but you can do a lot to add activity to your life when you’re not exercising.

For example, get up and walk around every thirty minutes or so if you sit behind a desk at work or spend some time playing with the kids. If you don’t have kids, get a dog and take him for walks. Anything that you can do to stay active will give your body the exercise you need to help you lose weight. Exercise combined with proper diet is how you lose weight the healthy way and how you keep it off.

Walking For Weight Loss and Conditioning


strengthen knees and hips

The easiest exercise to do, walking is also one of the most beneficial. In general, it’s better than running, because it’s easier and if you can’t run, you can usually still walk. It’s better than most aerobics, because it is far less likely to injure knees and other joints. It’s better than climbing stairs, because you can do it for a longer time — which means your respiratory and circulatory systems are kept going, so they get conditioned. As a matter of fact, it has been demonstrated that slightly longer exercise periods are key to conditioning your lungs and heart. Recommended is at least a 15-minute walk; but a 20 or 30-minute walk is better, if you can do it. Walking exercises more than your legs. It works your heart, your lungs, your circulatory system.

Unless you’re really just starting to exercise again, you may want to skip to Part Two now… Part One concerns some of the mechanics of walking and has some cautions for those with knees or legs that perhaps aren’t so strong.

Part One: Walking, For People Who Are Just Starting to Exercise Again

For people who are unaccustomed to exercise, slow walks are just the thing to use to condition yourself. While those who are used to more exercise can benefit from fast walks, a slower but longer walk is better for the less-active person, even if you do it so slowly it seems like the snails and turtles are passing you by. The distance you cover is a better measure of value for you than speed. Focus on how far you walked, and work on gradually increasing that — not your speed.

People who walk find they get into condition fast — and find they’re capable of longer walks sooner than they expected. And this should encourage the inactive: If you start walking today, you often feel a tiny bit better tomorrow, believe it or not. You begin to reap the benefits of moderate exercise almost right away. The body wasn’t meant to stay still. Walking “feeds” your muscles. Muscles really need to move, contract, and work.

As a matter of fact, exercise does feed your muscles, literally. It forces oxygen and blood into them, pushes it along, and gets the nutrients in your blood moving along to the tissues that must have those nutrients. Your body may be a temple, but it’s not a monument. It’s a system that must stay in continual motion. Inactivity is what actually starves muscles and eventually can damage them.

Posture – It’s Very Important
While you walk, your posture matters. If you lean forward at the waist while you go along, you’re likely to end up with a sore back. (You know how you can get a sore back at your desk by leaning forward in your chair for too long? Same principle. A few muscles grouped in a small area of your back are being forced to hold your entire upper body up.) Straighten yourself, visualizing your backbone as a nice straight arrow. Keeping your head up too helps remind you to walk with straight posture.
Leaning forward as you walk will work your gluteal muscles too much, as well as put a huge stress on your lower back. You’re supposed to be putting the load on your legs, which are strong and can handle it. So keep your upper body weight centered over your legs by NOT leaning forward.

Note: If you use a cane or walker, stay as upright as you can by keeping the walker or cane close to your body as you walk. In other words, push your walker short distances ahead of you, NOT long ones, so you aren’t leaning way forward towards it. If using a cane, take shorter steps, so you aren’t leaning so far forward on your cane. You may find you’ll be able to go farther, keeping this good posture.

But of course we all have a curve in our backbones, so it may take some effort to stand correctly when you’re overweight — or have been inactive. Walking with poor posture can automatically start straining your joints, since the weight distribution as you move is a little unbalanced.

So: Head up and chin level. — Shoulders back but relaxed. — And most of us tend to walk with the belly thrust somewhat forward and buttocks stuck out, so try to tuck your bottom under … which will automatically pull in your stomach. If that’s hard to do, try just doing it every few steps; walk a little slower and practice correct posture as you can. Eventually you’ll be walking better.

Walking Up Hills: Lean Forward Only At the Ankle, Keep Steps Short
As you walk up even a slight rise or hill, your posture has to adjust, obviously. But you don’t want to lean forward at the waist. Instead, imagine you’re leaning forward at the ankle… and take shorter steps, and keep your back straight. And here’s a tip for knees: Shorten your steps when you walk up a rise and don’t extend your knee beyond a 90-degree angle. This protects the joint. (How? When you walk uphill and place your foot so your knee is open at an angle greater than 90 degrees, your knee is basically pulling you uphill. This is not good: It throws too much weight on the joint, and the joint is in a weakened position at that angle. The muscles surrounding your knees are stronger when pulling over a short distance, so you want a narrower angle, and thus a shorter step.)

When you’re just starting, you may want to avoid hills for a bit unless you can control your posture fairly well.

Part Two: Walking For Exercise, in General


It is good to warm up even for walking. And more so if you are a power walker. Here’s how:
1. First, walk around slowly for a few minutes. This pumps the blood through your legs like a massage. You might gently shake each leg out a little. Do walk heel-to-toe.
2. Then stretch:

….Your calves. Stand and place both palms flat on a wall, or hold onto a gate or fence, and take one step with your right foot at least 12 inches back. Keep both feet flat on the ground and your right leg straightened. Lean your upper body just slightly towards the wall/fence. Hold that stretch for at least 15 seconds, then switch so your left foot is the one farther back, and hold for 15 seconds again. Repeat.

….Your leg and hip. Do a lunge — that is, a big step forward with your right foot — and keep your left leg straight and left foot flat on the ground. Make sure your right knee is at no more than 90 degree angle and your foot isn’t ahead of your knee. Hold for about 10 seconds, then lunge with your opposite leg. Try not to arch your back inward during the stretch.

….The front of each thigh. Stand on one foot, bending the other leg behind you, holding your foot up, your heel almost hitting your buttocks, so you can grab the toe of your shoe. Hold your foot and feel the stretch in the front of your thigh, for about 5-10 seconds. Repeat with the other leg.
If you cannot easily get hold of your foot behind you, skip this stretch. Force it and you can get a painful muscle spasm in the back of your thigh.

….The rest of you. Arch your back and shoulders like a cat, then relax; do several slow big circles with your arms; do a side stretch by reaching up high with one arm, hold for a few seconds, then bring your arm down and do the other arm. Bend over and let your arms hang down loose, and feel the stretch in your back and hamstrings. Straighten up slowly, a vertebra at a time.

3. Some people like to do a varied routine in their walk workout.

Interval Training?

What helps you finish a workout or walk and keeps it from becoming tedious? Variety. Structure. A plan. And interval training is one way of incorporating all those into your exercise time. Plus, there’s something about fast-paced intervals alternating with slower ones that actually burns fat more effectively and faster than an unvaried workout. A walk of assorted speeds is one example of interval training.

First, you’ll need to bring a watch/phone with a timer along, so you can time the intervals. The shortest interval will be about 30 seconds, so the choice of timer isn’t terribly critical.
Make sure your shoes are good and supportive athletic shoes, such as cross-trainers.

Your walk should start — after your 3 minute warmup — with 15 minutes of moderate-pace walking, which is about 3 miles per hour. This speed is a little too fast to be sight-seeing; walk as if you’re headed for a bus stop, and while you’re not in a hurry, you know you shouldn’t dawdle either.

Then, at the 15-minute mark, start striding about 5 miles per hour, like you just saw that bus approaching and now you have to hurry. This is a brisk walk. Keep it up for 5 minutes, and if you want you can, at this point, do a 30-second jog. Then immediately go back to your original moderate pace. Keep that up for another 10 minutes, if you plan to repeat the interval of brisk walking; if not then do 15 minutes moderate pace, and end.

This is just an example. Other exercises are usually incorporated in between walking intervals, for super calorie-burning effectiveness. That will be described in other articles.

Weight-Loss Exercise Tips – Basic

These exercise tips, with weight loss in mind, are some general but important guidelines that are meant to help you become healthier, and learn more about what exercise is and does, and how to keep yourself in good shape when beginning an exercise and weight-loss program. Many of the ideas are normally incorporated into just about every exercise video done by the best physical fitness people. We go into some explanation of them in this and future articles, because when you know why they’re done, you begin doing such things automatically in your own exercise lifestyle. You should end up healthier, more conditioned, and feeling and looking better.

repetition and consistency in exercising

Building muscle is good:  When you build more muscle, your body’s metabolism increases and burns calories more efficiently. This is why not just cardio exercises but also strength-training, or muscle training exercises, are recommended.

Skin tightening:  Some experts say that cardio alone doesn’t provide the benefits to your skin that yoga and muscle training exercise does. In other words, yoga and strength training help tone your skin layers and tighten them. So during your weight loss or diet program, muscle-building exercises may help somewhat with the skin sag that sometimes can happen after a significant weight loss.

Make your exercise efficient:  When you exercise, you can increase the number of calories burned by involving more muscles. For instance, walkers should be pumping their arms too. This is done for added calorie burn, but also for balance. When you do aerobics doing leg-kicks or stepping forward and back, if you add lifting your arms up and down too it adds a lot of extra exercise. If you do bicep curls, you might do them while marching or doing knee bends.

Modify exercises to suit you:  If you are unaccustomed to an exercise or find an exercise difficult, modify it. Definitely. If people in the video are doing the movement with weights, you may want to do it with no weights in your hands. Simply moving your own body weight can serve to exercise you until you’re strong enough to handle some added weight.

And if a movement is difficult, make it slower — or smaller — or just “less.” Anyone just starting to exercise again probably shouldn’t be jumping (such as jumping while holding weights — can injure knees), or making jerking movements with limbs (in Tae Bo boxing exercises, use caution and do not “punch” quickly — can injure shoulder or elbow. Do a slow-motion punch, or just bring your fist half of the distance forward), or jerking your body upright. Such fast motion takes a great deal of muscle strength, and even fit people can injure themselves doing it.


When you’ve been living an inactive lifestyle, or nearly inactive, special care must be taken as you begin to exercise again. Some key things to remember are: Do short sets, make your movements slow ones, and protect yourself against injuries.

1. A short set of exercises is better than none, by several orders of magnitude. Do a little exercise because it’s so much better than none at all.

2. Slow, steady movement while stretching or exercising is safe;  quick, jerky movements are often not safe and can strain a muscle or hurt a ligament. Just ask any physical therapist.

3. If it hurts enough for you to say or think, “Ow!” while you’re doing it, stop right away. Take the weight off that limb, or carefully lower yourself back down, or stop reaching that way. It is nearly always possible to gain a little more flexibility gradually by increasing what you do after a few days; but to force your body to assume a position it isn’t prepared to can tear ligaments. It’s easy NOT to harm your body: Don’t do things that hurt.

4. Warming up is more important the older you are — or if you’ve been on bed rest, or immobilized for a while — or if you have any serious health issues. A warmed-up body, like any engine, functions better.

5. Don’t forget stretching after exercise too, to cool down. Stretching after a workout can actually prevent soreness the next day.

 – What is soreness, anyway? – It’s usually slight bruising, or tiny micro-tears in your muscles. Those tiny tears take usually 24 hours to heal. This is the main reason we’re told to work out every other day, NOT every day. Even fit people are instructed to work one set of muscles one day, then a different set the next day. Note: Walking may be done every day, because it isn’t as strenuous as other exercise. Our legs are about the strongest muscles we have and are very used to the motion. But if walking was a little too much the one day, then skip a day walking.

 – Sometimes you don’t even feel sore until as long as day or two after a workout. What does this mean? —  This could be what has been described as DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness, which may be caused by particular kinds of exercises. Some say DOMS is muscle damage caused by excessive “lengthening contractions” of muscles, and they recommend doing exercise that is isometric instead. Isometric exercise is a type of exercise in which you just tighten, then relax a muscle. You’re basically hardly moving at all, and definitely not lifting anything.

Whether you accept the ideas of fitness writers concerning DOMS or not, a couple of things are usually accepted about delayed soreness. It is usually due to unaccustomed exercise. Also,lifting heavy objects, or repeated lifting, is a frequent cause.


The Role Fitness Plays in Your Life

Turn on the TV, radio, or take a look at most any magazine and chances are you will see or hear something to do with weight loss. People all over the world, especially in America, have become increasingly overweight throughout the years and this trend seems to be continuing despite so many efforts to lose weight.

warm up before jogging

Everywhere you look there is a new diet plan, new ways to exercise or some miracle product available designed to help you lose weight fast and easy. However, the majority of these don’t do anything but waste your time.

The key to losing weight is a healthy diet and a good exercise program that’s suited for your body. It sounds simple, but it’s a lot harder to do than it seems. For this reason, many people try to take short cuts by taking diet pills, adhering to a strict diet or literally starving themselves in an attempt to lose a few pounds.

Exercise is often left out of the picture because in general, people want fast results so they’re searching for that quick fix. If they can take a pill or monitor what they eat and lose weight, this saves them time that they don’t have to spend exercising.

The problem is that most diet pills and many diets are a waste of time because even though you may lose weight, you’re not losing it in a healthy way. This can actually make matters worse by causing serious health problems and that is where exercise fits in.

There are No Shortcuts 

There are no shortcuts, magic pills or miracle diets available when it comes to losing weight. It requires dedication, determination and a real effort. It starts with a healthy nutritious diet combined with a good exercise plan designed especially for you. Then it takes persistence and a real desire to put forth the effort needed to drop those pounds.

If you try to take shortcuts, you may lose weight but you can damage your body in the process. For example, if you go on a starvation diet your body begins using all of the nutrients stored in your body to keep it alive. These nutrients along with all of the energy you receive from them will be used to keep your heart, lungs and other essential organs functioning properly.

When your body no longer has any fat reserves left to feed on due to the diet you’re using, your muscle tissue will start to reduce. As a result, you’ll lose weight but you’re damaging your body in the process. At first, you may begin to feel extra tired and irritable but eventually, your organs can even begin to shut down.

How Exercise Helps You Lose Weight

Now that you know exercise is needed to help you lose weight, it’s important to know how it helps you. Exercising works your muscles, which require energy to work correctly. This energy comes from the sugars found in your bloodstream.

Eventually, if you exercise long enough, the muscles will use up all of the sugars in the bloodstream and the body will need to replenish it by taking it from the fats stored in your body. When this happens, you’re burning calories. The muscles are getting the energy they need to function correctly and you begin to lose weight.

The best part is that your body still burns calories while you sleep because the muscles are working to repair themselves to get ready for the next workout. This requires energy, which comes from the fat stores and this means that you are still burning calories. The more calories you burn, the more weight you lose.

The more you exercise the toner your muscles become. As a result, you’ll lose weight but you won’t have to deal with the flabby skin that some people deal with when they lose weight too fast through crash diets. You’ll look beautiful and feel great. It’s a real esteem builder.

Which Exercises Should You Do to Lose Weight

It’s important to know that only a professional with experience in weight loss through exercise can tell you which ones to do to lose weight. This is because there is no one particular set of exercises suited for every person. It depends on many different things such as how much weight you need to lose, your age, how long it’s been since you last exercised and your overall health.

You’ll need to create an exercise routine that is suited for you personally and something that you will actually do. For example, there is no need to get a membership to the gym if in reality you know you won’t go. Instead, look for ways to get exercise that you can enjoy. For example, if you enjoy dancing, look for a dance routine you can do designed for weight loss.

Bicycling and swimming are two more ways to burn calories in a fun way. Other options include walking, jogging, running and step aerobics. Yoga is also a good option for many people. If it’s been a long time since you last exercised, you can start off by doing things around the house like work in a garden, mow the lawn with a push mower or spend a few minutes a day playing games with the kids.

Exercise Tips

When you’re not used to exercising, you don’t want to start out full force. This can do more harm than good. Instead, choose light, simple exercises such as walking and swimming that will give your body time to build up and get used to doing something. Then, gradually add more strenuous types of exercises to your routine.

You should also begin slowly by spending about 10 to 15 minutes performing the exercise, regardless of what you choose to do. After you have become comfortable with the exercises you choose, then you can begin picking up the pace. For example, instead of walking, switch to a light jog or go further distances. You do need to push yourself but stay at a rate that is comfortable for you. Never try to keep up with someone else.

Always warm up before exercising to prevent straining your muscles. You also want to drink plenty of water before and after your workout to avoid becoming dehydrated.

Keep in mind that as your muscles tone, they gain mass and since muscles weigh more than fat does, you may not notice a difference in your actual weight at first. You may only lose a couple of pounds, weigh the same or even gain a few pounds so don’t let this discourage you. There will be a noticeable difference in the way you look and the way your clothes fit and that is what’s most important.

Some exercises are designed to build muscle mass and add weight. These are the type of exercise bodybuilders do and not what you’re looking for when you’re just trying to lose weight and tone up your body. Weightlifting is one example. Take time to learn about the different exercises so you can find the ones that suit you the best.

If you’re not sure what type of exercises to do or how to get started, you can seek the help of a professional. There are many programs and experts available that can help you design the exercise program that is best suited for your body, age and overall physical health.

The role exercise for weight loss plays in your life is a dramatic one. You can’t lose weight and stay healthy without it. In addition, exercise has many other benefits, too. You will look better, feel better and have more energy than ever before.