How Much Exercise Do You Really Need To Lose Weight?

How Much Exercise Do You Really Need To Lose Weight? Hero Image
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To feel incredible inside and out, you sometimes need a little help from your community. That’s why mindbodygreen has teamed up with our friends at NutriBullet LEAN to arm you with the knowledge and inspiration you need to achieve your most radiant, confident body ever. Read on to reach your healthy weight the beautiful, balanced way. For even more support, sign up for free weekly healthy weight-loss tips from NutriBullet LEAN’s on-staff dietitians. Sign up here to start receiving tips today, and enjoy a special 20% discount with code MBG20!

To feel your best and to reach—or maintain—your healthiest weight, there's no doubt that a balanced diet and moving your body go hand-in-hand. But how much exercise is enough? Is there such a thing as too much exercise? And what kinds of movements best support your goals in reaching a healthy, maintainable weight? We've got answers to the workout questions you've always wanted to ask.

A Moving Target

Spoiler alert: There's no magical number. We can't give you a set number of minutes, because there are too many other factors involved. Think about it: If you go to a cardio kickboxing class and your friend goes to a super-slow vinyasa flow class, you've both devoted the same number of minutes to exercise—and undoubtedly reaped distinct benefits, like strengthening your heart (you) or increasing flexibility (her)—but you'll have burned more calories, which will likely inch you closer to reaching your healthy weight.

Another major confounding factor: food! If your friend follows her workout with a bottle of sparkling water and you gulp down a caramel Frappuccino, well, that changes things! Today, scientists know the math of weight-maintenance or weight-loss is a little more complicated than calories-in/calories-out, but it's still a super-helpful way to think about reaching a target weight.

Moving your body burns calories, or the energy the body likes to convert to fat; if you burn more calories than you take in, you'll lose weight. Of course, consuming 300 calories (one brownie at an office birthday party) is a heck of a lot quicker and easier than burning them (that's about an hour of walking or 30 minutes of running). That's why healthy weight loss starts with a balanced, nutrient-rich diet that supports your workouts while keeping calories in check.

Tools such as the NutriBullet LEAN system take the guesswork out of eating right. NutriBullet LEAN encourages three delicious, workout-fueling meals and two snacks each day, so you are filled with nutrients and don't end up reaching for a hunger-induced, sugar-laden treat at 4 p.m. The key is finding what works for your body!

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Which workout wins?

Sorry to give you another wishy-washy answer, but experts agree: whatever workout you'll actually do. Hiking is a great workout, for example, but that's neither here nor there if you're never gonna hit the trail. Pretty much any movement—from walking your dog to dancing around to Beyoncé—can be your gateway to feeling stronger and slimmer. This is all about you!

Once you know what heart-rate-spiking activity makes you smile, aim to complete it 150 minutes per week. Again, if you're also maintaining a balanced diet lower in sugar and processed foods at the same time, you'll notice healthy changes in how you feel (and how your clothes fit) even more quickly.

And while we normally think of "workouts" as "movement that makes you sweat like crazy," cardio isn't the only key to losing weight. Sure, it's important for heart health, endurance, and feeling strong, calm, and centered (there's a reason doctors prescribe it for depression and anxiety!), but its chiller counterpart, strength training, is just as necessary. (In fact, one study found that people who did 20 minutes of weight training daily saw a smaller increase in belly fat than men who completed 20 minutes of cardio.

But this isn't an either/or thing: Strength training is the yin to cardio's yang. But don't panic, busy friend: Research suggests that lifting weights or completing body-weight exercises just once or twice a week can improve strength, help prevent injuries, and shore up your skeletal density.

OK, you say, but what kind of movement will get me into shape most quickly? If efficiency is your priority, high-intensity interval training (or HIIT) is the answer. Research shows it both revs up your metabolism and very effectively helps reduce body fat, particularly around the abdomen.

Experts say that two to three HIIT workouts per week, along with one circuit-training workout (that's a high-intensity workout in which you cycle between different exercises with little to no rest in between), is a great target for safe, maintainable weight loss—not to mention a steady drumbeat of endorphins, stress release, a healthier heart, and major gains in muscle strength. If you're looking for a shortcut, you've found it! To get started, check out this 12-minute HIIT workout you can do right in your living room.

As you can see, there is no perfect exercise to maximize weight loss. While exercise is important for weight loss, it can often be the case that weight loss is 20 percent exercise and 80 percent diet. A system such as NutriBullet LEAN will not only provide you natural fuel for your workouts, but it will provide you an easy-to-follow healthy diet to hit your healthy weight loss goals or maintain your healthy weight while making you feel like your most radiant self!

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