Put Your Weight Loss on a Faster Track

You’re eating less and are watching the types of food you put in your body. That’s a great start. But to give your weight loss efforts a kick in the pants, make sure exercise is part of your plan. Its metabolism-boosting, muscle-building and reshaping benefits will lead to faster, more lasting weight loss.

Make a Plan

Exercise doesn’t have to be boring, painful or overly time-consuming. The hardest part is just getting started.

Start by writing down your goal. Do you want to lose 10 pounds, walk 3 miles or run a marathon? (Or all of the above?!) Then schedule your first week of exercise sessions with the date, time, place and what you plan to do. Stick to it like you would any appointment. Fit it into your lifestyle in a way that you know will work for you. Don’t let excuses stop you from getting healthier and slimmer.

Mix It Up for Max Results

So now that you’ve got your goal set and time slotted, what are you going to do? For maximum benefit, choose a combination of aerobic and strengthening activities.

Get the heart pounding

Aerobic activities make your heart, lungs and blood vessels stronger. Anything that gets your heart beating faster can be considered aerobic.

Start out slowly and increase the amount of time and the intensity level. If you do an aerobic activity such as walking at a moderate level, aim for a total of at least two and a half hours per week at first. Work your way up to 5 or more hours a week. Try to be active a minimum of three days a week. When you’re exercising at a moderate level, you should be able to talk while you do the exercise but not sing. Moderate activities include brisk walking, water aerobics, biking on level ground, raking, and even ballroom dancing!

If you choose more vigorous activities like running, do at least an hour and 15 minutes a week total, and again work your way up to doubling that time. With a vigorous activity, you can only say a few words without stopping to catch your breath. Vigorous activities include biking faster than 10 miles per hour (and hitting the hills!), fast dancing, hiking uphill, race walking, jogging or running, or swimming laps.

As any activity gets easier, increase the time or intensity. Here’s more motivation: the harder you exercise the less time is required to reap the benefits!

Pump it up

Strengthening should be done two to three days a week with a day off in between sessions. Work out all the major muscle groups, including the legs, hips, back, chest, stomach, shoulders and arms.

For most people, 5-pound weights are a good place to start. Do two to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise. For time-savings, you can mix it up by doing upper body strengthening one day and lower body strengthening the next. For motivation, remember the muscles you’re building burn more calories even at rest, plus you’ll look more toned and sleek!

Calorie Countdown

For active ideas, look at this rundown of calories a 155-pound person burns with one hour of exercise:

· Bicycling leisurely at less than 10 mph: 281

· Stationary bicycling with moderate effort: 493

· Fast ballroom dancing: 387

· General gardening: 352

· Golf, carrying clubs: 387

· Golf, with cart: 246

· Jogging: 493

· Mowing lawn (push mower): 387

· Mowing lawn (riding mower): 176

· Race walking: 457

· Raking lawn: 281

· Running at 5 mph (12 minute mile): 563

· Shoveling snow: 422

· Scrubbing floors on hands and knees: 387

· Sweeping garage, sidewalk: 281

· Swimming leisurely: 422

· Tennis, singles: 563

· Tennis, doubles: 422

· Walking at 3 mph, moderate pace: 246

· Walking uphill at 3.5 mph: 422

· Walking at 4 mph, very brisk pace: 281

· Weight lifting, light or moderate effort: 211