Survey a hundred people and most of them will tell you their goal for exercising is to lose weight. And while that is an admirable goal, it shouldn’t be a primary one. A goal from exercising that would serve them better overall (and one where they will lose weight in the process) should be living a healthy lifestyle.
Getting to a healthy lifestyle has three components to it: strength training, cardio and diet.
Strength training is not about burning calories immediately, but over the long term. Strength training builds muscle and inherently the more muscle one has, the more calories burned just at rest. Three pounds of additional muscle burns an additional 120 calories per day. But the calorie burn is only part of the results. Because of the additional muscle (we are not talking much additional mass, but more of a firming and toning) you will look leaner and with that leaner look, you will feel better about yourself.
Cardio training is where you get the most amount of calories burned. There are a number of cardio exercises that burn a respectable number of calories from a 30-minute workout. From a low of walking at 180 calories to a high of step aerobics at 400 calories, cycling, swimming, racquetball, rock climbing, skiing, running, elliptical trainer and rowing all fall somewhere in-between.
You have probably heard the old adage “You can out-exercise a bad diet.” It is true and this is why diet has to be part of a healthy lifestyle. Regardless of how much you exercise, if you eat unhealthy, you won’t lose weight.
A healthy diet should be low in saturated fat, sugar and salt, yet have some unsaturated fat as the body needs some fat to be healthy. A good diet consists mainly of fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds, whole grains, lean meats and fish. Many vegetables are negative in nature meaning it takes more calories to process them than they have in them in the first place.
Most of us know to lose a pound of weight per week, we have to burn 3,500 more calories than we take in. That breaks down into 500 calories per day. By adding muscle through strength training, burning calories through cardio and watching what we eat, a 500-calories-per-day reduction is easy to achieve.
Living a healthy lifestyle reduces the risk for many of the unhealthy lifestyle-related diseases including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and a shortened life span. With a combination of strength and cardio training and a healthy diet, losing weight will come naturally and doesn’t have to be a single focus.