It’s the age old question: how long should I exercise to lose weight? The experts agree, how long to exercise to lose weight is an important topic. No one trying to shed pounds wants to waste energy on long workouts that don’t yield results. So how long is long enough? Well, there isn’t a magic number, but there is an answer.
What is Weight Loss?
Weight loss requires a calorie deficiency. You need to burn more calories than you eat. The amount of exercise you need to lose weight will depend on the number of calories you take in. That is why diet combined with exercise is so important. No matter how long your workout, you won’t see results if you eat as much as you burn.
Doing the Math
Keeping an accurate calorie count is only one part of the puzzle. Once you know how much you have taken in, you can do the math on how much you need to burn. It takes 3500 calories burned to lose a pound. If you burn 300 calories per workout, it will take almost 12 workouts for you to lose a pound. If you also cut out 300 calories per day, you will double your results.
To lose the recommended 1-2 pounds per week, you will need to have a calorie deficit, from diet and exercise combined, of 3500 to 7000 calories. That might mean cutting 250-500 calories per day plus burning an additional 250-500 calories per day. With this equation it becomes clear, how long you exercise doesn’t matter as much as how many calories you burn while doing it.
Burning More Calories
To get the biggest bang for your buck, go for cardio exercise and vary your intensity. Circuit training is one of the highest calorie burning cardio exercises, which will reduce the time you spend in the gym. Cross training can keep your calorie burn up as well, varying activity from day to day. This keeps the muscles confused and keeps calorie burn high. The important thing is calories burned during the exercise. That is what determines the length of the activity. How many calories are you trying to burn? Here are some exercises and their calorie-burn for 30 minutes:
- Running or jogging (5 mph) = 295 calories
- Swimming (slow freestyle laps) = 255 calories
- Aerobics = 240 calories
- Bicycling (10 mph or more) = 195 calories
- Walking (3.5 miles mph) = 140 calories
- Weight training (light workout) = 110 calories
As you can see, the activity you choose will effect how long you need to exercise to lose weight. Running for 30 minutes will yield more calories burned then walking for 30 minutes. The important thing is to start somewhere. Burning some calories is better then none. If you can’t run, then walk. It may take you more workouts to burn the 3500 calories, but you will still lose weight. Remember, weight loss is a marathon, not a sprint.