Podcast Episode #003: The Best Type of Exercise for Burning Fat
You're determined to shed a little weight and have committed to exercising regularly to reach your goal. Which type of exercise will be most effective for you? You might be surprised by my answer!
What's the Best Fat-Burning Exercise? [Full Text]
Today I've got an excellent question from Jagdeep in Burlington, Ontario. Let's dive right in. Jagdeep says:
"I actually like exercising and I try to do something active at least three times per week. I guess I'm just wondering what will give you the best results. I know running is likely the best thing I can do but it's not my favorite. What do you recommend?"
First off, great job with the exercise so far, Jagdeep. Three times a week is an excellent start. Let's start by clarifying what the best results are. I'm going to assume for the purpose of this podcast that we're talking about burning the most calories or burning the most fat. Some people might have different objectives. Maybe they're training for a specific sport or a specific event, but if we're looking at burning calories, then let's talk about what is the most effective form of exercise.
Focus On Starting With Exercise That You Enjoy
I'd like to suggest that the best form of exercise for burning calories or burning fat is the type of exercise that you really enjoy doing. Why do I say that? There's been a lot of research done about compliance, and specifically people's compliance to doctors' orders. The results are pretty interesting. What do you think people do when a doctor prescribes them a specific type of medication that's going to drastically improve their quality of their life or the quality of their health? Do you think they always take it? Do you think they sometimes take it? Or do you think most people never take that medication?
Research shows that about 40% of people don't take the medication the doctor prescribes. Why is that? When a doctor says this is going to make you healthier and all you need to do is take this one pill every single day, people still find it difficult. It still seems like work. It's still implementing a new habit that they're not used to. If taking one pill is too much work for 40% of people to incorporate into their daily routine, imagine what you're asking of someone by saying, "Hey, I want you to do this specific type of exercise regardless of whether you like it or not."
That's why I say it's so important that you find a form of exercise that you really enjoy doing, and why that's actually the best form for burning fat or burning calories. Because if you like doing it, there's a lower barrier for you to do it on a daily basis, and the likelihood of you complying or doing that regularly goes through the roof. If you've found a form of exercise that you enjoy doing, regardless of how many calories that exercise actually burns, do it. That is the best one for you, for burning fat and burning calories, over the long term.
It's Surprising How Many Calories ANY Exercise Will Burn!
I want to use an example, the example of walking. I always say walking is the most underrated form of exercise that there is. A year ago I was sitting on a plane and the woman sitting beside me, we got chatting and she asked me what I do for a living. As soon as I mentioned being a weight-loss coach or being a fitness instructor, right away people want to tell me their story. This woman had an awesome story.
In the past year she had lost 75 pounds. Whenever I hear something like that, right away I want to know what did you do, how did you get so successful. It was very interesting, because this woman, all she did was buy a dog. It was a strategic purchase. She said that she didn't really like exercising but she had read somewhere that buying a dog that forces you to go out and walk every day so it's a great way to start incorporating exercise into your routine.
That was her really big change. She said she did incorporate some new things into her diet and definitely cleaned up her eating habits, but in terms of exercise, her only change was buying a dog and walking every single day. Now most people think that okay, walking, that doesn't really burn that many calories, but in 30 minutes you can burn about 200 calories just walking at a normal pace. For this woman, and for anyone else who's looking to start incorporating exercise into their routine for the purpose of weight loss, think about how quickly that adds up. Two hundred calories for 30 minutes of walking per day over seven days a week: that's 1400 calories every single week.
But Which Exercise Burns the Most Calories?
If we look back to the question in totality, what form of exercise actually burns the most calories, Jagdeep, you were right. Running is usually the best form of exercise for just burning mass calories. In about 30 minutes, if someone goes out and runs at a very quick pace, they're burning about 600 calories. The same can be said for cycling. Someone that goes out and really pushes the pace on a bicycle burns about 600 calories in 30 minutes.
But there's lots of other forms of exercise that burn a lot of calories as well. Doing an aerobics class can burn 400 calories in just 30 minutes. Getting on an elliptical trainer at the gym burns about 350 calories. Circuit training, so doing a circuit of resistance training exercises at the gym or at home, that burns about 300 calories, again just in 30 minutes. Those are just a few examples. There's all kinds of form of exercise that burn a lot of calories in a very short period of time. Remember though, using walking as a baseline, walking burns about 200 calories in 30 minutes. That's something that's really accessible to most people.
Your "10 in 4" Takeaway
The takeaway today is if you're looking for the most effective form of exercise for burning weight, choose the form of exercise that you enjoy doing. The chance that you're going to comply or stick with that form of exercise is much higher if you actually enjoy doing it. If I were to prescribe you with the most effective workout routine for burning fat or losing weight, if you hated doing it, what's the chance you're actually going to follow through?
As a quick comparison, let's take a look at two scenarios. Imagine that for 30 minutes a day, 7 days a week, you went for a walk. Just 30 minutes walking at a nice leisurely pace. Contrast that with a scenario where four days per week you went to the gym and you lifted weights for 30 minutes. Who do you think is burning more calories? At first thought, it seems like wow, four times a week in the gym, that person, they're doing a lot of exercise. They must be getting better results.
But the cumulative factor of walking seven days per week for just 30 minutes far outweighs the calories that are being burned exercising four times a week in a gym routine. In fact, walking seven days per week burns 20% more calories than getting in the gym four times per week.
Back to the 10 and 4 takeaway. Choose a form of exercise that you enjoy doing and don't worry about how many calories it burns in just one session. You want to be able to exercise on a daily basis and for the long term, so pick something that you enjoy doing.