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How To Exercise Smartly and Time-Efficiently

See the Criteria for a Convenient Exercise Program

Exercise for Weight Loss
Is It Necessary?


First of all, let's address this question: Is exercise absolutely necessary for weight control? Or can you get by without it?
The answer is: You may get by without it, as long as (and here's the catch) you lead a healthy lifestyle.

This of course begs the question: What is a healthy lifestyle?
In short, it's a lifestyle that is conducive to a moderate degree of physical activity as part of one's daily routine. Since this physical activity fits harmoniously into one's life, it's not necessarily perceived as exercise. Check out the link below for illustration:

Walking Tips for a safe and enjoyable walk
  • Fitness walking is an aerobic exercise that can be done almost anywhere. Keep in mind it is one of the easiest, most basic, and most rewarding fitness activities you can engage in. It works out the body and relaxes the mind, both of which are ground rules of healthy living.

Along this line, you may also want to take a look at the 2 chapters below:
Healthy Lifestyle Examples
Tips for a Healthier Lifestyle

And now, let's face the other side of reality: Not everyone can afford the luxury of a healthy lifestyle. All too many hurtles interfere with this: Sedentary jobs, stress, fast food - to name just a few. Most of us have to deal with these challenges, which over time take their toll on our health and weight. And here's where exercise comes in, as a way of fixing an abnormal lifestyle. Under these circumstances, yes, exercise is a must for weight control.

In other words, we must now add exercise to our list of 'to do' chores.
For those who love to exercise, no problem. For those others, however (who represent the vast majority), there is just one sensible solution: Find a way to integrate exercise in your life as 'painlessly' as possible, i.e. make it as convenient and time-efficient as can be. Otherwise, needless to say, you simply won't be able to stick with it.

So, what constitutes a convenient exercise program ? Although this may be different for each individual, certain common criteria exist and need to be considered when choosing your exercise program. Follow this link to find out more:
Criteria for a convenient exercise program

Exercise for Weight Loss
Types of Exercise:

By and large, there are 3 main types of exercise:

  1. Aerobic Exercise (or Cardio Exercise) - which relies on the increase in heart rate during exercise for weight loss results
  2. Strength Training (or Muscle Toning) - which relies on increased muscle metabolism for weight loss results
  3. Combinations of the 2 types above (i.e., intervals of aerobic exercise alternating with intervals of strength training)

Exercise for Weight Loss

Aerobic (Cardio) exercises works by raising the heart rate. This requires energy, which is provided by burning carbohydrates and fats aerobically (using up oxygen). It is deemed that in order to be effective, aerobic exercise needs to be performed for at least 20 minutes (preferably 30-40 minutes) at a time, several days a week.

Aerobic workouts can be done at the gym or at home - using exercise machines such as treadmills, stair climbers, elliptical trainers, stationary bicycles, or simply using workout videos.
Many activities of daily life can be substituted for aerobic workout.
For further details on aerobic workouts, see Aerobics Facts.

chest push

Exercise for Weight Loss
Strength Training:

Strength Training (Muscle Toning) works by increasing muscle mass and muscle metabolism. During muscle toning exercises, energy is provided by burning carbohydrates and fats anaerobically (without oxygen). This leads to the formation and accumulation of lactic acid in muscles. After workout completion, when relatively more oxygen becomes available to the muscle, lactic acid is being converted into pyruvic acid and burned aerobically to CO2 and water, releasing additional energy. Thus, additional calories continue to be burned after the completion of a muscle toning workout, even though the muscle is at rest. This is the advantage of strength training over aerobics. Moreover, as muscle mass increases, the basal metabolism of muscle (in between workouts) becomes higher and burns additional calories at rest. Therefore, strength training is in my opinion the convenient 'backdoor' to fitness - a very smart and time-efficient way of getting into shape.

Strength training can be done at the gym or at home - using inexpensive dumbbells, or more expensive strength training machines such as Bowflex, Total Gym, etc.
In the absence of dumbbells or machines, your own body weight can be used to build muscle mass -with exercises such as squats, step ups and step downs, gluteal squeezes, abdominal squeezes, pushups, leg lifts, abdominal routines, etc. For an in-depth discussion of strength training, see Strength Training Facts. You may also want to see a few examples of Strength Training Videos which I used and found effective.

Exercise for Weight Loss
Combo Workouts - Aerobics & Strength Training:

  • Sports such as martial arts, tae bo, boxing, and swimming provide an excellent combination of aerobic exercise and muscle toning.
  • Sports such as basketball, baseball, soccer and golf also provide combined aerobic and muscle toning benefits, although to a somewhat lesser degree (i.e., certain muscle groups are preferentially targeted, while others are ignored).

Exercise for Weight Loss
How Many Calories Does Exercise Burn?

This is a question I hear a lot. As a matter of fact, it's a tricky question.
Why? Because the number of calories burned during exercise depends on several factors - out of which at least one is beyond our control. Here are the determining factors:
  • type of exercise
  • intensity of exercise
  • time spent exercising
  • body weight (something we cannot change at the time of the respective workout)

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Here's how it works: The heavier a person, the more calories he or she will burn during exercise. For instance, if a person weighing 200 pounds swims freestyle at moderate speed for 30 minutes, he or she will burn about 330 calories. Whereas, if a person weighing 140 pounds does the same exercise, he or she will burn only about 230 calories.
The explanation for this is simple: It takes more effort to mobilize a greater weight, therefore more calories are burned for the same level of activity.

This phenomenon may sometimes pose a problem during a weight loss program, especially as one approaches target weight. Due to the reduced body weight, one's workout routines now burn fewer calories, which slows down the weight loss process. Sometimes, this may lead to a weight plateau, requiring an increase in workout time or workout intensity in order to resume the weight loss process.

Certain individual factors (such as age, gender, and muscle mass) may also influence the number of calories burned during exercise, but on the whole the differences are small enough to be ignored.

Check out the links below for specific details:
Calories burned by various exercises
Tips for picking the most time-efficient exercises

Exercise for Weight Loss
The Main Hurtle to an Exercise Program:

This one is simple: The main hurtle to any exercise program is lack of compliance. In order for exercise to be effective, it must be done repeatedly over time. And that's where most exercise-based weight loss programs fail. If one could muster the motivation to go through the moves, at least 3 times a week, for at least 20 minutes a day, on an ongoing basis, that weight loss program would quite likely be a success.
For further details, see our tips for exercise motivation.

Exercise for Weight Loss
What is Effective Exercise?

Right off the bat, an exercise program has to meet certain criteria in order to be effective. If these are ignored, exercise will simply fail to yield results, and all the effort will have been in vain. Here are the requirements for an effective exercise program:

  • Must be practiced at least 20 minutes a day, 3 times a week
  • Higher workout frequency is recommended during the initial weight loss phase (ideally 30-60 minutes a day, 5 times a week)
  • Must be sustained over time, up to the point of achieving target weight
  • Must be sustained after achieving target weight for at least 1 year (although workout frequency may be lowered)
  • Must be flexible and convenient
  • Should ideally include both aerobics and strength training, preferably combined in the same workout. (This is especially true during the initial weight loss phase. Later, during the weight maintenance phase, one can get by with strength training alone.)
  • Should ideally involve a large part of the body's muscles (in the same workout or during sequential daily workouts).
  • Should ideally involve a variety of body moves (this works better than one single repetitive motion).
  • Should rotate workout routines every 2-3 weeks. Periodically switching to new workout routines prevents boredom and has the advantage of creating muscle confusion, which results in more calories being burned.
  • Should provide varying workout intensity over the course of the workout: High effort intervals should alternate with low effort intervals, and the cycle should be repeated a number of times. This is the so-called 'interval training', which is believed to be more effective than exercising at constant moderate intensity.
    Interval training also allows the body to recover during the low effort intervals, which is helpful in preventing injury. A particularly effective type of interval training is to alternate bursts of aerobic exercise with intervals of moderate strength training. Each type of exercise allows the body to recover from the effort of the former exercise, while still continuing to burn calories.

Many workout videos satisfying the above requirements are available.
For illustration, see my favorite video picks.

Or, for an original approach to exercise, check out this link:
"If you want to be as strong and healthy as an animal, you need to learn the natural exercises of nature. Animals like Tigers and Bears only need their own bodyweight to be unbelievably strong and healthy. They don't need to workout in a gym, and neither do you. Learn to exercise with natural movements the animal kingdom way. Suitable for all ages and fitness levels."


Note: It is prudent to consult with your doctor prior to starting an exercise program, especially if you are new to exercise, suffer from any medical conditions, or are a woman over the age of 50 or a man over the age of 40.

Return from "Exercise for Weight Loss" to Home Page




Exercise for Weight Loss
Is it necessary?

Exercise for Weight Loss
Types of Exercise

Exercise for Weight Loss

Exercise for Weight Loss
Strength Training

Exercise for Weight Loss
Combo Workouts

Exercise for Weight Loss
Calories burned during exercise

Exercise for Weight Loss
The Main Hurtle to Exercise

Exercise for Weight Loss
What is Effective Exercise?





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