Fighting cravings, dodging temptation, scrambling for motivation… like a battle in a never-ending saga. Losing weight can feel like pure fiction at times, but it is possible to change it to fact. Combined with healthy eating, exercise plays a key role.
Studies show that many types of exercise can impact conditions like obesity, diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. Your body uses energy for a full range of motion to avoid injuries and combat ageing. Your muscle cells need loads of energy to perform, and they burn calories to do so. This can continue after your workout, so it’s time well spent.
There are three strategies most commonly recommended:
Cardiovascular training is a great way to lose weight at home. It increases stamina, heart and lung endurance, delivering oxygen throughout the body.
Activities can include jogging, cycling, elliptical trainers, treadmills, aerobics and dancing. It lowers blood pressure, improves cholesterol and bone health. Low impact activities like walking and swimming can help people with injuries or arthritis.
Cardio helps with weight loss by getting you to your fat-burning heart rate zone and eating your fat stores. As your fitness improves, you can perform for longer periods, smashing more calories. So maybe it’s time to dust off the sneakers or snap on a pair of goggles…
This stands for High Intensity Interval Training, which is a combination of short burst workouts and recovery periods. An example is Tabata, with 20 seconds exercise followed by 10 seconds rest. HIIT can be done with equipment (bike, dumbbells, kettlebells, ellipticals, treadmills, skip-rope, step-ups etc.) or with no equipment (burpies, mountain climbers, lunges, squats, running, swimming etc.)
It’s becoming more popular for several reasons:
- It’s highly effective in weight loss, burning calories 24-48 hours after your workout and producing growth hormones that boost the metabolism.
- It’s very convenient for those who are time poor. Some workouts are as little as five-ten minutes.
- It’s easier to stick to because it isn’t long and tedious, and there’s many of ways you can do it.
The higher the intensity, the harder your body has to work at recovery. So, it’s important you don’t overdo it and allow yourself days to recuperate.
HIIT produces a flood of endorphins, so it’ll leave you feeling great after workout. So, if you’re short for time and looking for a high, why not give HIIT a try.
2. Strength Training
Also known as resistance training, this is a great way to kill calories and reshape your body. It fights the fat by boosting your metabolism and inducing the afterburn effect.
While general cardio burns a lot of calories during the workout, strength training keeps on burning afterwards, even while you’re sleeping! It takes a lot of energy to repair and rebuild your muscle fibers.
It can literally transform your body by lifting and toning your skin and muscles. Women needn’t worry about bulking up too much as we don’t share the same hormone levels as men. Studies indicate only men’s testosterone significantly increase after lifting weights.
Two forms for strength training:
- Isometric: contracting your muscles against an solid object (e.g. floor push-ups)
- Isotonic: contracting your muscles through a range of motion (e.g. lifting weights
You can perform these exercises using:
- Free weights (dumbbells, kettlebells, etc.)
- Resistance bands
- Hand grips
- Medicine balls and sandbags
- Workout ropes
- Weight-lifting bench
- Weight/Cable machine
- Your own body weight (push-ups, planks, mountain climbers, chin-ups, squats etc.)
Strength training affects body fat, insulin resistance, metabolic rate, blood pressure, diabetes and sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass as we age). Some resistance programs as short as 11 minutes have shown to increase energy expenditure and impact fat oxidation, helping prevent obesity.
This form of exercise can greatly improve your self-confidence; you’ll not only look good, you’ll feel yourself getting stronger. Gone are the days of struggling with the grocery bags or relying on someone to open a jar.
This mightn’t have a direct impact to lose weight, but it plays a key role in any exercise program. Stretching, bending and flexibility exercises promotes full extension of the body, encouraging peak performance for all activities.
You’ll be more active through the day, which means you can burn more calories. Most importantly, it helps you recover quickly and avoid injuries.
Flexibility exercises decrease stress on the body and improve balance. Slow, deliberate moves and deep breathing promote relaxation and boost mental health. Some examples are:
- Stretching: great low impact techniques to improve your joints and elasticity.
- Yoga: improves posture, focus, builds muscle strength, protects the spine, maintains the nervous system and much more.
- Tai Chi: a slow-motion exercise that originated from China martial art. It lowers blood pressure and improves muscle relaxation and mind-body awareness.
- Pilates: a full body exercise that improves core strength, stability and posture.
- Exercise ball: this is a great tool that also improves balance, posture and core strength. You can use it on its’ own or add it to your strength training routine.
By boosting your flexibility overall, you can get the most out of workouts and burn more calories to lose weight.
Have The Best Of All Worlds
Get the most out of your fitness journey by trying all three. Many trainers recommend using different muscle groups on different days to allow recovery. By alternating between cardio, flexibility and strength training, you cover all bases.
There are many routines and machines that cater for a combination of activities:
- Multi-gyms have a variety of equipment from weights to chin-up bars and punching bags.
- AeroPilates Rebounder machine allows for cardio and strength training.
- Intensati is a cardio routine that combines interval training, positive affirmations, martial arts and yoga.
- Feeling too tired? Snap on your favorite tunes and dance away with a pair of dumbbells. It won’t feel like a workout and it beats loafing on the couch!
Consistency Is Key
No matter what exercise you choose, consistency is the key to getting results. Skipping workouts can affect your motivation, endurance and overall progress. If your fitness keeps falling behind, you could find yourself becoming frustrated.
To lose weight at home, its important to keep challenging yourself. Your body learns through repetition, such as muscle memory. As your fitness builds, what used to be hard may no longer be as effective. So, it’s best to keep progressing (alter your routine, increase your weights etc.)
To give yourself the best chance, pick the type of exercises you enjoy. This will boost your motivation to stick with the program. The longer you do it, the more you’ll come to love it. The fitter you become, the more things you’ll want to try. Eventually your day won’t feel complete without your workout. There are endless rewards to exercise and so much selection that you’ll never be bored.
What about you?
Is there a type of exercise you enjoy that hasn’t been mentioned? Is there anything above you’d like me to expand on in another article? Feel free to comment below and share your experience.