The seemingly logical answer to that question is that aerobic activities such as jogging, swimming or cycling burn the most calories and therefore are most effective for healthy weight loss.
However, Aerobic or cardiovascular activity is any activity that uses the large muscles of the body in movements that are continuous and rhythmical. According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), an individual should participate in this type of activity for at least 30 minutes per day, 5 times per week at a moderate intensity. If you want to get the same benefit in less time, the ACSM says to increase the intensity to vigorous, and 20 minutes a day, 3 times a week will do it.
For most efficient fat burning to occur during cardiovascular activity, work out in your Target Heart Rate (THR) zone, which is between 60 and 90 percent of your maximum heart rate. Performing aerobic activities in your THR will best ensure you achieve healthy weight loss.
How Strength Training Promotes Healthy Weight Loss
After aerobic activity, your metabolism is elevated for anywhere between a few minutes to a few hours depending on the intensity of your workout. That means you're burning calories at a higher rate than you normally do. With strength or resistance training, however, you build lean muscle mass, which permanently increases your metabolism. You burn more calories whether at work or rest. The more lean muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolic rate and therefore the quicker you can reach your goals.
The ACSM recommends between 8 and 10 strength training exercises of 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise at least twice per week.
How Having Fun Promotes Healthy Weight Loss
Exercise tips for healthy weight loss underscore the combination of cardiovascular training with regular strength training to get optimal results. Remember, too, that if you don't enjoy it, it's not likely you'll continue doing it. None of us want to lose weight only to regain it shortly thereafter. A healthy lifestyle leads to lasting results, and adopting that lifestyle is much more easily achieved when it's fun.
Ways you can increase the fun factor in your exercise routine include having family join in, taking it outdoors to enjoy the scenery, good music, joining classes to make it more of a social event and changing up your routine (also important to avoid fitness plateaus). And remember, if you don't enjoy it, don't do it! Find something else.
Finally, we can't let a discussion of healthy weight loss go by without some mention of the fact that weight loss as a goal in itself can be counterproductive. Even if we're trying to better manage PCOS or type 2 diabetes or some other reason that legitimately has to do with our health, focusing on getting healthy, and living healthfully, holds much greater promise for achieving our goals.