Me, you, and many others have at one point or another sought out the “best” exercise for fat loss (as well as for other goals I’m sure).
We want results and we want them now. Many seek out what will burn the most calories or what will allow us to burn fat all day long and in general what works the best.
The TRUTH however, is that “best” is a relative term. What is best for me may very well be a horrible idea for you.
Truly, the “best” exercise is the exercise you enjoy and can stick with long-term!
The key in losing fat is to put ourselves in a caloric deficit through decreased energy intake and increased energy expenditure.
Therefore, the best exercise for you is that which allows you to continue doing it consistently and/or long-term so that you have a continually increased energy expenditure.
Energy expenditure is key (at least one of them, regarding fat loss).
“An important point is that it does not matter what type of physical activity is performed: Sports, planned exercise, household or yard work, or occupational tasks are all beneficial. The key factor is total energy expenditure; if that is constant, improvements in fitness and health will be comparable.”, Blair SN, et al. Annu Rev Public Health. 1992.
Key Focus Points:
-Best is a relative term. Do not worry about what is the best exercise, just find a type of physical activity that you enjoy and can see yourself continuing long-term. Whether participating in a hobby such as tennis, basketball, flag football, or gardening for 30 minutes everyday, just be active!
-Though, generally I believe the most effective exercise program should consist of a mix of strength, cardio-respiratory, and flexibility training, physical activity (in any form) IS KEY (regarding general health and fat loss)!!
-An exercise program is of little to no value if it CANNOT BE SUSTAINED and because any physical activity influences energy expenditure and energy expenditure directly influences body weight, just moving more would be beneficial to our health and/or body composition.
Some advice on exercise:
-Start slow! One of the biggest mistakes people make is going too fast. Slowly and strategically add exercise sessions each week. Jumping right into 5, 60 minute sessions a week is usually going too quickly so try something such as one to two 30 minute sessions a week or three to five 10-15 minute sessions a week. Those or something similar, would be much better starting points.
-Do your best to make a SUSTAINABLE plan that includes a mix of resistance, cardio, and flexibility training. You can do this by mixing these three (or 2 of them into the same session). Resistance exercise followed by 10-20 minutes of stretching. Or resistance exercise followed by 10-20 minutes of walking.
-Do NOT neglect resistance training! Aim for 2-3 days a week, however if that is not sustainable, 1 session with equated sets, would be better than nothing (and arguably just as good according to a study done by Michael H. Thomas and Steve P. Burns PhD, 2016).
-If you find yourself continually falling away from your exercise plan and going back to your old habits, change things up. Continue to evaluate what works and what doesn’t, what you enjoy and what you do not. Remember the “most effective” exercise regimen is the one YOU enjoy and can continue long-term.
Whether regarding exercise, diet, or any other aspect of health and fitness, best and worst are relative terms. Do not stress yourself out trying to find special workouts or those that claim to burn the most calories. Instead, always remember the best exercise program is the one which you enjoy and can sustain long-term. The key to losing weight is a negative energy balance i.e, expending more energy than we take in. Exercise and/or physical activity is one of the ways we can control the energy out part of the equation (while also carrying with it many more health benefits). Just move more!
1. “How much physical activity is good for health?”, Blair SN, et al, Annu Rev Public Health. 1992, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1599603
2. “Increasing Lean Mass and Strength: A Comparison of High Frequency Strength Training to Lower Frequency Strength Training” Michael H. Thomas and Steve P. Burns PhD, Department of Kinesiology, University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg, MO, USA