While exercise has a number of benefits that have absolutely nothing to do with weight loss—from happiness and decreased stress to reduced risk of heart disease—it can be an effective way to lose weight if you do it right.
"Cardiovascular fitness, strength training, and mobility should both be employed in a weight-loss routine," says Matheny. "There is a right way and a wrong way for each person depending on their current level of fitness and their goals. I still think a blend of the three is the best, but I do think strength training or strength combined with cardiovascular training can be more effective in a shorter amount of time than just cardiovascular activity. The reason for this is that cardiovascular training does not typically build lean muscle mass, which is key for increasing metabolism and helps burn more calories and aids in weight loss."
But above all, Matheny says, proper nutrition is key. "Exercise is important for so many reasons, but changing your nutrition can be the only thing you need to do if your goal is just weight loss," he says. "Any sort of exercise will aid in weight loss, but making sure you're nourishing your body properly is by far the most important thing you can do."
Interested in the cardio/weight-loss connection? Here are four reasons cardio might be sabotaging your fitness goals.