How Hard Should You Exercise to Lose Weight?

Depending on your fitness level you can exercise at light, moderate, and hard intensities to lose weight. The key is to be persistent and not overdo it. And, no matter what exercise you choose, or what intensity level, they all count when it comes to losing weight. What do we mean when we talk about intensity in exercise?

• Low-intensity exercise = low amount of effort (walking, biking, etc.)
• Moderate-intensity exercise = medium amount of effort (weights, swimming, …)
• High-intensity exercise = high amount of effort (full body, competitive, and similar exercise)

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Exercise guidelines are generally given in terms of moderate intensity exercise. For example, doctors recommend 20-30 minutes of exercise 3 times per week – this exercise should be at the moderate intensity level. Examples include:

• 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate intensity exercise per week to promote and maintain health.
• 200-300 minutes (31/3 to 5 hours) of moderate intensity exercise per week is recommended to lose weight and keep it off.
• If you want to have the kind of body you want, assuming you’re not a pro bodybuilder, my recommendation is 5 hours of exercise per week, no less! Why? Because you need to burn about 2,600 calories per week to keep weight off and maintain the type body you want.
What happens when you exercise at different intensities in terms of calorie burn for 5 hours per week – this is an average over many people.

On average, the following calories are burned:
• 165 calories a week exercising at a low intensity.
• 630 calories a week exercising at a moderate intensity.
• 890 calories a week exercising at a high intensity.
These same people burn an average of 175 calories walking stairs per week and 750 calories walking outside (in the park, around the block, etc.). The total number of calories burned each week is more than 2600 calories. This amount meets the recommended amount for weight loss and keeping that loss off.
So, not that you understand a little more, let’s look at exercise intensity again. What is low, moderate, and high intensity in terms of your body feeling the difference?

Low-intensity exercise:
• Feels like it requires little effort.
• Can talk constantly or sing your favorite song while exercising.
• Walking or exercising seems slow paced.

Moderate-intensity exercise
• Feels like it requires a medium amount of effort.
• Can talk some during exercise but you can no longer sing your favorite song.
• Walking or exercising seems brisker in pace.

High-intensity exercise
• Feels like it requires a high amount of effort.
• You need to constantly catch your breath to talk or answer a question.
• Now, running or exercising seems a very fast pace.

As you become fit enough, you will burn the same number of calories exercising at a higher intensity for a shorter period compared to exercising at a lower intensity for a longer period of time. So, if you want to cut your time in the gym, get fit enough to work out at a higher intensity.

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