How Much Exercise Is Enough for Weight Loss? - dummies

How Much Exercise Is Enough for Weight Loss?

By Jane Kirby, The American Dietetic Association

Combining exercise with a diet is the best way to lose weight. But how do you know if you are exercising enough to reach your dieting goals?

The current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Sports Medicine recommend 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity on most — and preferably all — days of the week. That amount is enough for most people, and it’s a good starting point. But for weight loss, you need to expend a minimum of about 200 to 300 calories a day on a minimum of three to five days a week.

How do you define moderately intense? You can count your heartbeats to determine how intensely you’re working, but the American Heart Association’s conversational pace rule is the easiest way to determine whether you’re setting the right pace.

If you can talk and walk at the same time, you’re probably walking at the right pace. If you can sing and maintain your level of effort, you’re probably not working hard enough. And if you get out of breath quickly, you’re probably working too hard — especially if you actually have to stop and catch your breath.

How frequently and intensely you exercise, as well as how long you work out, determines how much fat you burn. But don’t overdo it. To burn fat, you need oxygen — get your heart and lungs pumping with aerobic activities.

However, if you exercise so vigorously that you can’t breathe, your workout is actually anaerobic (not using oxygen), which means that you’re using carbohydrate and possibly protein (from your lean muscle) for energy, not fat. If you want to lose weight, you want to lose fat.