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“How much do I need to exercise to lose weight?"

“How much do I need to exercise to lose weight?"

Well what do you mean by “how much”? How often? How long? How hard? “Yes, yes and yes?” Okay, Short answer: often and as intensely as you can.

Long answer: all of that depends on your; goal, schedule, fitness level, calorie intake and any possibly health issues or injuries.

According to a review in ‘Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise’, physical activity accounts for 15–30% of your total daily caloric expenditure, but the more resistance work you do on your muscles, the more after burn you have – that is, your body burns fat 24 to 48 hours after a resistance workout.

In general, to boost your metabolism to burn more fat (aka lose weight) you need to work every single muscle in your body a minimum of twice a week and do cardio at least twice a week BUT - that’s if you workout HARD AND EFFICIENTLY. The Physical Activity Guidelines is a good general base. It’s published by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. To that point, many fitness experts like Jonathan Valdez say “With the amount of clients I see, it’s amazing how many people aren’t even doing these fundamental recommendations,” Valdez is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, ACE-certified personal trainer and representative for the New York State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. I agree. People are surprised that just walking the dog doesn’t do it.

Through working with my clients, I find that most adults need to work their muscles at least twice a week to just initiate weight loss. I’m talking about resistance exercise targeting all the major muscle groups. Doing a bunch of reps with light weights doesn’t count as resistance. That’s semicardio- semi endurance. Real muscle-working resistance is whatever resistance truly challenges you to the point of being hard but doable in good form. I find it’s effective and easier for people to work into their schedule hitting fewer muscles in each workout, more times a week. In other words, do resistance/weight training-workouts 4 to 5 times a week, hitting only 2 to 3 muscles in each workout, and doing cardio on the other days, or right after you do resistance (weights). Always work your muscles before doing cardio- more on that later. Cardio: to lose weight, depending on your fitness, you’ll want to do a minimum of 2½ hours of moderate-intensity exercise such as power-walking, golf, moderately swimming laps or getting on an elliptical or a recumbent bike, or 75 minutes (that’s 1 hour & 15 minutes) of vigorous-intensity exercise like jogging, swimming, playing a sport like tennis or basketball. You can also do an equivalent combination of the two intensities of cardio every week, according to the official Physical Activity Guidelines. Can you forego the workout if you just eat less? Well, yes and no, but more towards the “no.” Dieting is cutting calories and that alone doesn’t boost your metabolism - which is what burns fat. That’s not to say you won’t lose weight by just dieting, but it takes longer, it doesn’t maintain the weight loss and you’ll need to do a major calorie deficit. What works best is watching your calories and exercising at the same time. You may have heard that you need to cut about 500 calories a day to lose about a pound a week. You could cut 250 calories from your diet and burn 250 calories through exercise. You could track your heart rate with an app or fitness watch to get an estimate of how many calories you burn while exercising. A 155-pound person can expect to burn between 130 and 150 calories with 30 minutes of walking at a rate of 3.5 miles per hour, 220 calories after 30 minutes of swimming and 275-300 calories after running at about 5 mph. This again depends on your weight and true pace or intensity. On the flip side, you can lose weight by only exercising and not dieting, but it’s hard. To do this, you must burn more calories than you take in. And this normally calls for you to over-exercise and over-exercising can lead you to overfatigue your body and even lead to injuries. Again, what’s worked best for my clients has been a combination of exercise and modest calorie restriction. You could feel less hunger or not hungry at all after an intense workout like HIIT -High-Intensity Interval Training or a long cardio session. We all have a “hunger hormone” called Ghrelin, which can dip for about 90 minutes after a super intense workout. But then again, I have clients who feel ravished after a mean session! (Mean as in fierce, not that I’m mean!). I always warn them to make sure they eat but not to overeat later. That would defeat the purpose of burning calories or the afterburn. What you eat before and after a workout depends on if it’s cardio, or weights, or both, and how you feel. As a certified Personal Trainer I studied and continue to research nutrition, which I use to help my – clients in their calorie count. But back to how much you should workout to lose weight, I sit with my clients to help them figure out how to fit it in- no matter how busy or bogged down or overwhelmed they are. We all have different schedules, motivations and mindsets, but you CAN MAKE TIME! And together we find how to make that happen. And you don’t have to spend hours at a time at the gym. I train clients at their homes, at work in their break rooms, conference rooms, or private office; at their condo/apt gyms, in their tiny living rooms, at the park, baseball field, basketball court, high school track, or just urban sidewalk, and yes, private personal training studios. Some clients workout twice a week, others do it 5 to 6 times a week - I create a program to make their frequency as efficient as possible.

The main point is that you should get help figuring out and factoring it in so that you don’t waste our time, and you truly do, lose weight.

Ronnie Loaiza NASM Certified Personal Trainer

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