Exercise for Weight Loss (Part 3)
Is cardio the best way to exercise for weight loss? On this page we discuss mild fitness cardio exercise. We also provide an overview of exercise in general as well as some supportive aids.
On related pages, we discuss the other major kinds of improvements you can make to "burn" more body fat effectively, namely, eating well, doing strength training, and doing intense fitness cardio. If you have not yet read these related pages, we encourage you to do so after reading this page.
You will find those page links awaiting you on our site map/index, which is situated at the bottom of the menu/navigation buttons to the left of this page.) Now let's look at mild fitness exercise.
Mild Cardio Fitness Exercise
"Mild fitness training," "mild fitness exercise," or "mild cardio" here mean "fitness training that sustains your heart rate between 60% and 65% of its predicted maximum."
Here's an important fact: when done correctly, both strength training and intense fitness exercise (such as GXP, PACE, or HIIT) are better for burning fat after exercising than mild fitness exercise.
Isn't that to be expected? Since they are more difficult than mild fitness exercise, they are a better way to exercise for weight loss than mild fitness exercise.
That makes sense. It's generally true that you'll get more out of an activity if you put more into it.
It does not follow, however, that you should avoid mild fitness exercise. There are two important reasons for this.
First, people generally fall into one of two groups: those who hate exercise and those who enjoy exercise. If you are in the first group, it may be that doing mild fitness exercise such as brisk walking is the best exercise for you to do because it's the only exercise you'll do. It's certainly superior to doing no exercise at all.
Second, mild fitness exercise is excellent for burning fat while exercising.
The reason that strength training and intense fitness exercise are better at fat burning than mild fitness exercise is because they burn fat much longer after exercising than mild fitness exercise.
Maximum fat burning during cardio occurs at a moderate intensity level (about 63% on average).
Even if you do twice weekly strength training as well as intense fitness exercise two or three times weekly as we recommend, it's also a good idea to go for a brisk walk once a week. 'Brisk' means 2 miles in 30 minutes, 3 miles in 45 minutes, or 4 miles in 60 minutes.
Here's the problem with using only mild fitness exercise to burn fat: because it burns so much fat during exercising, if you do it regularly what you are doing is training your body to store fat for the next session of mild fitness exercise!
Of course, that's the opposite of what you want. You want fat burning, not fat storage.
It's also why we don't recommend walking for fat burning more than once weekly if you are also doing strength training, intense fitness exercise, or both.
However, if mild fitness exercise is the only exercise for weight loss you are doing and you are willing to do enough of it and eat well, you can still lose plenty of fat just doing it.
You'll just have to put more time in. Try this: work up to walking 5 miles briskly six days of the week. That's about 75 minutes of walking on most days, but, if you are willing to do that as well as eat properly, it's sufficient to cause you to burn all the fat you want over time.
How do most fitness models, master bodybuilders, and fitness athletes use cardio to shed fat?
They usually do cardio on machines such as treadmills, stepmills, stepmasters, and stationary bikes. Such machines typically permit easy measuring of the amount of exercise performed.
In addition, using them is not subject to difficulties related to the weather or traffic.
Furthermore, it's typically easier to listen to music or audio programs or watch television or video programs or even read when using a machine for cardio than when exercising outside. This is important, because, unlike strength training, there's nothing fun about routine cardio.
Furthermore, many such machines are adjustable. For example, treadmills are able to go faster or slower, and their incline can be adjusted. Even if brisk walking is the only kind of cardio you do, this allows for variety.
For example, if you get tired of walking at 4 mph at 1% incline, change! Try walking at 3.2 mph at an incline of 4—or walking at 2.5 mph at an incline of 12. Simply use a heart rate monitor to ensure that you are keeping your heart rate somewhere around 63%.
Mild versus intense cardio exercise for weight loss
In terms of your overall health, if the only exercise you do is mild fitness exercise, we do not recommend ever dropping below twenty minutes of cardio three times weekly with a day's break between each session.
Doing that amount has been shown not to compromise lean muscle mass.
In other words, this is not just exercise for weight loss; cardio is also for health.
In terms of achieving your ideal body composition, again, both strength training and intense fitness exercise are better than mild fitness exercise.
If you are only willing to do mild fitness exercise, then please just do as much of it as necessary. Try three thirty-minute sessions weekly of mild fitness exercise. If that's insufficient to lose a pound of fat weekly and you are eating properly, do more.
Do six or twelve thirty-minute sessions. Just do as much as it takes. (Incidentally, one pound of fat loss is the equivalent of one and one-half to two pounds of weight loss. It can be counter-productive to lose faster than that.)
On the other hand, we caution you about ever exceeding sixty minutes of the same kind of cardio at one time. The injury rate—not to mention the boredom rate—becomes unacceptably high.
If you want to do more than an hour daily, break it into two sessions of cardio. If you are doing serious strength training and anything like that much cardio and not losing body fat, something is wrong. Take a hard look at your food intake.
Effectiveness of cardio exercise
When doing cardio, your body prefers to oxidize carbohydrates rather than fats. That's the opposite of what is desirable. A chief reason to keep carb intake relatively low is to encourage your body to burn fat.
The bad news is that it typically takes about 20 or 25 minutes of mild fitness exercise (depending upon your level of fitness) before your body will begin burning mostly fat. So, if your mild fitness session only lasts 30 minutes, that's not a lot of fat burning.
The good news is that you can increase the fat-burning effectiveness of cardio simply by doing it when your body is less successful at burning carbs.
The best time is to do cardio is in the morning before eating. Since you'll naturally be low on carbs after your overnight fast, morning cardio will burn more fat than it would otherwise.
Don't underestimate the importance of this particular tip.
Another way is by doing cardio after strength training. This, too, works. However, many people (including us) don't like doing cardio when already exhausted. If you try this, don't steal energy from your strength training for cardio! In other words, don't pace yourself during strength training.
The best way to adjust your exercise for weight loss program to improve your body composition is to experiment by changing your mild fitness training to see what works best for you.
Related pages to help you further
You have just been reading Exercise for Weight Loss, Part 3. If you have already read Part 1 and Part 2, and you are ready to start, see our free WEIGHT LOSS PROGRAMS section. You'll find the page link on our site map/index, which is listed at the bottom of the menu/navigation buttons to the left of this page.
1. Exercise for Weight Loss (Part 1). 2. Exercise for Weight Loss (Part 2).
1. Exercise for Weight Loss (Part 1).
2. Exercise for Weight Loss (Part 2).
4. On the other hand, if you have not already done so, you may wish to use the page link next to it to visit our Lasting Natural Weight Loss 'HOMEPAGE.'
Recommended books on exercise for weight loss
If you gained useful information from this page and wish to improve your weight loss and eating habits further, AND aim for optimum health, the following books are highly recommended.
These are our top suggestions:
All the above books are in stock at Amazon.com (for the USA) and Amazon.co.uk (for the UK)
The strength/weight training exercise pages are listed in another section of our website. The link to that section is given on the main menu navigation buttons and on the site map/index, to the left of this page.
Below are two helpful external resources relating to exercise for weight loss.
Mild cardio walking has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease, asthma, and some cancers. You may wish to see the link below for the National Health Sevice's 10,000 Steps Per Day Challenge:
10,000 Steps Challenge
10,000 Steps Challenge
Once you have moved on from mild cardio exercise for weight loss, this useful video demonstrates interval training on three different pieces of equipment. Twice weekly is fine; as it will be intense, this must, therefore, be brief exercise for weight loss.