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How to Exercise for Weight LossHow to Exercise for Weight Loss


Exercise for Weight Loss

Find activities you enjoy

Include all three components.

A good fitness program includes three types of activity: cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and flexibility training.

Cardio: Your cardio sessions use large muscle groups for an extended period, burning the calories necessary for weight loss. At the same time, aerobic exercise works the heart, which makes it stronger and improves cardiovascular health. Choose activities that raise your heart rate and keep it elevated, such as dancing, hiking, jogging, or swimming.

Strength training: Weight machines, free weights, muscle conditioning classes, Pilates, and jump training all qualify as strength training. Some forms of yoga have also been found to increase muscular strength. Strength training burns calories, reduces muscle loss as you age, and gives your muscles a toned appearance. Incorporate strength training at least two times per week with exercises that work all major muscle groups.

Flexibility training: Activities that improve your range of motion can reduce your risk of injury and can improve your physical performance. Flexibility training can simply be stretching each muscle group after a workout, or it may already be a part of your activity such as with martial arts, yoga, or Pilates.

Find activities you enjoy.

Consistency is a major factor in your success with losing weight and keeping it off long-term. Enjoying your exercise routine impacts your ability to be consistent over the long run. If you feel there are no activities you enjoy, it’s time think outside the box. Jumping on the trampoline with your kids, or playing in an adult volleyball league count as exercise just like cardio machines and classes at the gym. If you find that you don't like the first plan you try, don't give up in frustration. Explore some new activities until you find some that you enjoy.

You must invest the time.

The American College of Sports Medicine reports that exercising more than 250 minutes per week is necessary to lose significant weight (at least 3% of body weight) while also improving the likelihood that you will keep the weight off. Below is a sample weekly exercise program that totals 315 minutes, involves all three fitness components, and includes a variety of activities.


  • Hiking: 60 minutes


  • Stationary Bike: 30 minutes

  • Full-body Strength Training: 20 minutes

  • Full-body Stretching: 10 minutes


  • Indoor or Outdoor Walk: 45 minutes


  • Modern Dance Class: 60 minutes


  • Elliptical Machine: 30 minutes

  • Full-body Strength Training: 20 minutes

  • Full-body Stretching: 10 minutes


  • Doubles Tennis: 30 minutes


  • Rest

Do the math.

Weight loss depends on creating a deficit between energy intake and energy expenditure. To lose body fat, you need to burn more calories through metabolism and physical activity than you ingest through food. Tracking your exercise with the MyFoodDiary exercise log, combined with using the food diary to track food intake, will help you balance your eating and activity to create the calorie deficit you need to reach your weight loss goal.

Lori Rice, M.S., is a nutritional scientist and author with a passion for healthy cooking, exercise physiology, and food photography.
Eat better. Feel better. MyFoodDiary Categories Exercise
Weight Loss
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