How to Lose Weight Safely and Permanently: 10 Best Exercises for Weight Loss

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There’s no getting around the fact that in order to lose weight safely and permanently, you need to eat healthy food and get plenty of exercise.

Exercising burns calories and builds muscle, which is essential for increasing your metabolism so that you can burn even more calories and lose more weight.

So dust off those workout clothes and pick one of these nine best exercises for weight loss to get started today on your path to a slimmer, healthier you.

1. Walking
Walking is an ideal exercise for weight loss: It doesn’t require any equipment, other than a decent pair of walking shoes, and you don’t need a gym membership to do it.

It’s a low-impact exercise, which means it won’t blow out your knees or cause other stress injuries that can leave you on the sidelines for weeks or even months.

For those with certain health issues, including obesity and heart disease, walking is an effective, low-intensity weight-loss activity that can lead to better overall health, as well as better mental wellbeing.

Depending on how much you weigh, walking at a pace of four miles per hour will burn between 5 and 8 calories every minute, or between 225 and 360 calories for a 45-minute walk.

At this pace, walking 45 minutes a day most days, you can lose up to a pound a week without changing any other habits.

So put on your walking shoes, turn on your iPod and go for a brisk stroll through the neighborhood. If you live close to where you work or shop, make walking your primary mode of transportation most days, and watch the pounds melt away. When the weather is bad, take to the local track or indoor mall, or hop on the treadmill.

2. Kettlebell

Kettlebells are cast iron balls fitted with a single handle. Unlike traditional handheld weights, the weight of the kettlebell isn’t evenly distributed, which means that your body has to work to stabilize you and counterbalance the weight of the ball.

Kettlebells provide for a hard-core workout that not only burns up to 400 calories in a mere 20 minutes, but also strengthens your core, improves balance and posture and targets all of the major muscle groups, as well as the stabilizing muscles.

Because kettlebell exercises involve the whole body, a kettlebell workout will rev up your metabolism to help your body burn fat faster, and it’ll get your heart pumping so that you get an aerobic workout as well. In fact, 20-minute kettlebell workout is similar to a six-mile run in terms of cardiovascular benefits and calories burned.

However, working successfully with kettlebells requires proper form to avoid injury and get the most benefit out of your workout. If you’re new to kettlebells, taking a class at your local gym will provide you with initial instruction about proper form and the safety guidelines you should follow when exercising with these heavy weights.

3. Swimming
Vigorous swimming can burn anywhere from 400 to 700 calories an hour. All types of swimming are effective for helping you shed pounds, from a front crawl to a breast stroke or even the dog paddle.

Swimming is a highly effective exercise for weight loss and toning. It’s one of the lowest-impact exercises out there, and it strengthens, tones and conditions your whole body.

It’s particularly ideal for women in their last trimester of pregnancy and individuals who battle with arthritis, obesity, and musculoskeletal conditions.

It’s also great for those who suffer from exercise-induced asthma, because the warm, moist air around the water helps keep the airways clear.

Many athletes use the pool as a cross-training tool, as well as to stay fit while rehabilitating an injury. When you’re neck-deep in water, your body is only bearing ten percent of its weight, and yet the water provides 12 times the resistance of air, making it ideal for strengthening and toning your muscles.

Swimming engages all of the major muscle groups, from your abdominals and back muscles to your arms, legs, hips and glutes. It effectively compliments other exercises, like running and walking, or it can be your sole form of fitness.

Don’t know how to swim? Not a problem. If you can propel yourself through the water from one end of the pool to the other, you can swim well enough to lose weight doing it.

4. Cycling
Bicycling is another low-impact, high-rewards activity for losing weight.

Cycling can burn anywhere from 372 to over 1,100 calories per hour, depending on your weight, your speed and the terrain you’re biking across.

Unlike running, cycling is easy on the joints, and even the most out-of-shape beginner can hop on a bicycle and ride several miles without feeling like they’ve just been through the wringer.

Outdoor cycling is best, because the varied terrain enables you to get a well-rounded workout that includes strengthening your lower body and getting a good cardiovascular workout.

If you live within biking distance of your job, cycling to work can stimulate endorphins and boost your metabolism for the day, as well as save you money on gas. If outdoor cycling is difficult or dangerous in your area, consider spinning.

Offered at most gyms, this group cycling activity is one of the lowest-impact classes offered, and yet it’s one of the most effective for burning calories and revving up your metabolism.

Even seasoned runners or bikers will likely find themselves challenged by the spinning instructor. An hour-long spinning class covers about 20 miles and challenges participants to reach speeds that they may find impossible when riding an actual bike.

5. Elliptical Trainer
The elliptical trainer at home or at the gym enables you to get a low-impact, full body workout.

Easier on the joints than a treadmill, the elliptical trainer also has movable handles that enable you to get a good upper-body workout in addition to working your lower body.

Elliptical machines let you choose the intensity level, and by raising and lowering the ramp and going backwards, you can target different muscle groups in your legs, both front and back.

The average person using an elliptical trainer can burn about 600 calories per hour. The elliptical trainer mimics the action of running while eliminating impact, saving knees and other joints from wear. For those who suffer from arthritis, musculoskeletal conditions and obesity, the elliptical trainer is a great way to exercise without risking impact injuries.

When you’re using the elliptical trainer, hold on to the movable handles rather than the static ones to increase the number of calories you burn and to help tone your arms.

Don’t rely on the calorie counters on elliptical machines to give you an accurate readout of calories burned. Instead, maximize your workout by striving to keep your heart rate at 85 percent and upping the resistance when it feels too easy.

6. Running
If you’re one of the many people who love to run, you’re in luck.

Running burns about 600 calories per hour, helps build strong bones and connective tissue and gets your heart pumping at a healthy rate to help prevent heart disease, stroke and certain cancers.

The only equipment running requires is a good pair of shoes to protect your joints and, if it helps you keep the pace and maintain motivation, an iPod with your favorite tunes.

Interval training can bump up the calories you burn on your daily run. Also called speed work, interval training involves short spurts, usually between 30 seconds and two minutes, of running at top speed.

Intervals burn a large number of calories in a short amount of time, improve your resting metabolism to help you burn more calories during the day, and increase your muscle mass.

Experts now recommend that you don’t stretch before you run. Instead, warm up by marching in place, bringing your knees up high, or walking for five minutes before beginning your run.

Because running is a high-impact exercise that can damage your joints, it’s always best to have a professional fit you with the right running shoes, based on your gait.

7. Tennis
A good game of tennis can burn up to 600 calories in an hour.

If you’re the type who prefers to exercise with a partner, tennis is an ideal way to get active. It’s also perfect for those who don’t particularly like to exercise, but who love a good competition.

You don’t have to be a great tennis player to lose weight doing it. After all, running after the balls is still a form of exercise.

The nature of tennis makes it a great whole-body workout, and playing it can help you improve your flexibility, balance and posture, as well as let off some steam to reduce stress.

Throughout the game, especially every time you hit the ball, your arm, abdominal and leg muscles are engaged, building strength and burning calories. But that’s not all that’s engaged. Your brain gets a good workout every time you play tennis, from thinking quickly and creatively to planning ahead.

Games like tennis boost the brain’s function to improve memory and the ability to learn new things. It also helps increase your peak bone mass; in fact, the National Institute of Health lists tennis as one of the activities that promotes bone health.

8. High intensity interval training
This is one of the most effective weight loss exercise options available.

You only need to engage in this form of exercise for about 20 minutes, three times a week, to get incredible benefits that include burning a large number of calories and ramping up your metabolism in the wake of the afterburn.

High intensity interval workouts can be done with many forms of exercise, and consist of short but intense bursts of activity followed by a lower-intensity period or a period of complete rest.

Those who are new to exercising shouldn’t perform interval training until they’ve been exercising regularly for a couple of months.

A standard interval workout for biking, swimming, running, lifting weights or even walking is 20 minutes long, but burns far more calories than 20 minutes of steady exercise.

Start out by warming up for five minutes. For the sixth minute, push yourself as hard and fast as you can. The seventh minute is all about catching your breath. Repeat the fast/slow cycle (minus the warm up) five times, and cool down for three minutes.

High intensity interval training, or HIIT, offers amazing benefits. Not only will you progress much faster to your desired fitness level, you will also improve your aerobic capacity. In fact, after only two weeks of HIIT, your aerobic capacity will be stronger than if you had completed eight weeks of steady-state endurance exercise, such as running.

9. CrossFit
CrossFit, like high intensity training, is only suitable for individuals who have been exercising on a somewhat regular basis for a couple of months.

Originally designed to train first responders and Special Forces, CrossFit is a workout regimen that involves weight lifting, endurance exercises, plyometrics, strength and speed training and kettlebell exercise routines, among other activities.

One thing you won’t lose with CrossFit is interest. Unlike other routines that involve doing one exercise for a specified amount of time, CrossFit incorporates many activities into one intense, fat-burning workout.

It’s designed to target all of the major components of physical fitness, including endurance, flexibility, speed, power and cardiorespiratory fitness.

No two days are alike when you’re doing CrossFit. An example of a CrossFit routine is five repetitions of 20 pull-ups, 30 push-ups, 40 sit-ups and 50 squats, all performed one after the other, with a three-minute rest between repetitions.

While definitely not for the faint-of-heart, CrossFit routines are highly effective at burning calories and fat, improving physical stamina and endurance, and increasing metabolism.

To get the most benefit out of CrossFit, you should perform a different routine at least three days a week, but ideally five days a week. The good news is that the routines are short, lasting only 15 to 20 minutes when done properly.

10. Cross Country Skiing
If you enjoy nature, like the cold and love a good snow, cross country skiing might just become your favorite exercise.

Cross country skiing is a tough workout that works every major muscle group in your body as you glide along, providing both pushing and pulling movements for your muscles. It’s great for improving balance and coordination.

Cross country skiing is a combination of resistance training and cardio activity that’ll burn between 500 and 650 calories per hour, depending on how much you weight and the intensity of the workout.

While you’re skiing, your muscles are working hard. However, since they’re all working together and you’re getting moments of rest on the glide, the lack of muscle exhaustion enables you to sustain the activity for long periods of time. Likewise, your heart rate will be elevated throughout the workout, but won’t be so high that you have to stop to rest.

Make sure you have the right gear for safety and comfort during your workout. You don’t need to spend a bundle, but you’ll need warm clothes that are designed to insulate and breathe. Make sure your ski boots are comfortable and warm.

The right form is critical when cross country skiing. Beginners should start slowly, propelling forward with long, slow strokes until rhythm and form become natural. The moves should feel coordinated and be executed with smooth, fluid motions.

Once you’ve got the form and rhythm down, let the skis take you on a tour of the winter wonderland around you. Allow your mind to wander while your body does the work so that you’re relaxed and renewed by the end of the workout.

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5 Keys to Running Healthy and Staying Injury-Free

Follow these rules, and you’ll spend more time on the road and less time in rehab.

By: Jennifer Van Allen
Image by: Jonathon Rosen

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AVOID THE TERRIBLE TOO’S. Doing too much, too soon, too fast is the number-one cause of running injuries. The body needs time to adapt to increases in mileage or speed. Muscles and joints need recovery time so they can handle more demands. If you rush that process, you could break down rather than build up. So be the tortoise, not the hare. Increase your weekly and monthly running totals gradually.

Follow the 10 percent rule: Build your weekly mileage by no more than 10 percent per week. So if you run 10 miles the first week, run 11 miles the second week, about 12 miles the third week, and so on. There may be times when even a 10 percent increase proves too much. Use the 10 percent rule as a guideline, but realize that it might be too aggressive for you.

LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. Most running injuries don’t just come out of nowhere and blindside you. Usually, there are warning signs—aches, soreness, and persistent pain. It’s up to you to heed those signs. If you don’t, you could hurt something else as you try to change your gait to compensate for the pain.

GET GOOD SHOES. Running shoes have changed a lot over the years, and there’s a dizzying variety of models, brands, and types to choose from. There are even minimalist shoes designed to mimic barefoot running (although there’s no scientific evidence that forgoing shoes decreases injury risk).

There’s no single best shoe for every runner—your goal is to find the one that offers the best support and fit for your unique anatomy and biomechanics. Don’t buy a shoe just because it’s the cheapest, because it “looks fast,” or because it matches your favorite workout gear.

You should replace your shoes every 300 to 500 miles. Note the date that you bought your shoes in your training log so that later you’ll know when it’s time for a change. And when it’s time to buy, visit a specialty running store—the staff there will ask you lots of questions, watch you walk or run, and take other steps to help you find the right shoe.

TAKE GOOD NOTES. A detailed workout log can help keep you motivated and injury-free. Take some time after each workout to jot down notes about what you did and how you felt. Look for patterns. For instance, you may notice that your knees ache when you run on consecutive days, but you feel great when you rest in between running days. This will help you determine the best routine for you. Plus, it will help get you out the door when the going gets tough.

You can draw confidence from seeing all the miles pile up. And the next workout doesn’t seem as daunting when you see how much you’ve already accomplished. There are lots of online training logs available, like the one here, but a notebook and a pencil work just as well. Here are some data that you should consider including in your training diary:

Daily or weekly goal

Mode of exercise (run, elliptical, swim, bike, etc.)

Distance (in miles or kilometers)

Workout time in minutes

Weather conditions

Time of workout (this can influence how you feel)

Route and terrain (hills, treadmill, track, trail)

How you feel before, during, and after the run

Shoes and gear used

Music

Interesting things you saw along the way

Notes about the people you ran with

CROSS-TRAIN. Running is hard on your body, there’s no doubt about it. So experts agree that most runners can benefit from cross-training activities to help improve muscle balance and stay injury-free. Swimming, cycling, elliptical training, and rowing will burn a lot of calories and boost your aerobic fitness.

Keep It Safe

Cross-training can help you stay fit when you can’t run, but choose wisely, says runner and sports podiatrist Stephen Pribut, D.P.M., of Washington, D.C. Some activities may worsen an injury. Below is a list of common running injuries and what cross-training activity is safe to do with the injury’s symptoms.

Runner’s Knee- Swimming and depending on the severity of the injury, stationary bike and elliptical can be safe activities.

IT-Band Syndrome (ITBS)- Swimming and depending on the severity of the injury, stationary bike, elliptical and rowing machine can be safe activities.

Calf Strain/ Achilles Pain- Stationary bike, elliptical, swimming, and rowing machine

Plantar Fasciitis- Stationary bike, elliptical, swimming, and rowing machine

Shin Splints- Swimming and depending on the severity of the injury, stationary bike can be safe.

Stress Fractures- Swimming and depending on the severity of the injury, stationary bike can be safe.

Year of Running 2014

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I’ve linked up with Miss Zippy to share a brief overview of my year as a new runner for 2014!!!

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Best Race Experience

I ran my first race this year, the Bed Stuy Alive 10K in October.  It was an incredible experience.  I spent most of the summer running alone. It became a form of active meditation and therapy for me.  Running in a large group was very different. I felt stronger and ran faster than ever.  It brought out my personal best and even made me competitive as well. I will always cherish how great it felt to sprint across the finish line.

Best Run

At the beginning of the summer, I decided during my commute home from work to randomly go for a run.  I hadn’t done so in years and really didn’t know what to expect.  It was a life changing moment.  My form was definitely off and it took a minute to control my breathing. However, once I entered my zone I felt amazing.  I became completely carefree and it was the highlight of my day. I wrote in depth about this experience in my first post.

 

Best New Piece of Gear  

I love my Lululemon tights and hoodie that I purchased in the spring.  At the time, I planned to wear them while working out in the gym.  I would soon discover that I sweat way more during my runs.  Even in the cold, these items keep my skin dry and warm. They are definitely part of my running staples.

Best Piece of Running Advice I Received

Learn to listen to your body.  Knowing when to rest, when to keep going or when your body has had enough isn’t easy.  It takes time to become familiar with your limits and to know what your body can handle.

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Most Inspirational Runner

Since I was a little girl, I was and am still inspired by Flo Jo.  She embodied everything I aspired to be.  She had beauty, style and grace yet she ran like a gazelle.  It is her legacy and the many African American female runners that came before and after her, that continues to inspire me daily.

If I could sum up my year in a couple of words, what would they be?

I turned my dreams into plans.

Running Roadblocks

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As mentioned previously, my goals for 2015 include two major milestones in my life; completing my first half and full marathon.

I am excited to undergo this process of making my body stronger while developing more stamina and endurance.  My primary concern is being able to raise enough donations to participate.

Entry into both is based on previous qualifying times, completing a certain amount of races prior to Dec 31st or running for charity.

I would have gladly run the required races in advance but my love of running and confidence in my abilities developed organically.

I didn’t have a plan of action when I laced up this summer and started hitting the pavement on a regular basis.  I just fell in love with how doing so made me feel.  It has been a life changing experience.  This prompted my desire to complete my first marathon.

I have increased my training days and distance accordingly.  I’ll continue doing so throughout the winter and I will be more than ready for the half.  During my long runs, I’m already averaging 10 miles on the road.

In the spring/summer, I plan to increase to 15-18 mile runs once a week. Then I’ll gradually add more miles until I am able to do a pre-marathon run.

In the meantime, I will continue seeking donations and training hard. Ultimately, I know a way will be made and my proverbial road unblocked.

Back to Fitness: The Healing Power of the Trail

By John Andersen Running and walking tend to be the staples of most people’s regular fitness routines.  These are our natural gaits as humans and our bodies were uniquely designed to do this.  Besides a pair of shoes and some comfortable clothes, running or walking requires no special equipment and most of us can do […]

via Back to Fitness: The Healing Power of the Trail.

13.1 Reasons to Run the 2015 United Airlines NYC Half with TFK

I’m super excited to be running in the United Airlines NYC Half to raise funds for Team for Kids. In addition to it being such a great cause, runners are provided with a lot of resources and support. Continue reading to learn more:

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1) Take your running to the next level.
Whether you are thinking about taking those first steps to becoming a runner or have run 5Ks and 10Ks, running a half marathon gives you instant bragging rights and elevates you to a new echelon of runner fitness. If you’re an experienced runner, take your running to the next level by going for a PR and adding another medal to your collection!

2) Three months of training versus five.
The TFK United Airlines NYC Half training program is just 2.5 months, unlike the five months it takes to train for a marathon.  The training is challenging, but you still have a life!  Training starts Saturday, January 10.

3) Fill up those long winter weekends.
What better way to stay motivated throughout the winter than have a goal. A healthy one at that!  Your Saturdays will fly by when you start them off…

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