The Best Exercise Strategy for Weight Loss


Are you looking for the right exercise routine that’s going to help with weight loss? Before planning your activities, try looking at what the minimum recommendations for adults are first. This is a checklist put together by the largest international organization of exercise professionals (The American College of Sports Medicine). They’ve researched what’s needed for an adult’s basic health and wellbeing and it’s a good place to start.

ACSM Minimum Activity Recommendations

  •   Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week or about 30 minutes of moderate activity at least 5 days per week.
  •   One continuous session or multiple shorter sessions (of at least 10 minutes) are both acceptable to accumulate desired amount of daily exercise.
  •   Adults should train each major muscle group two or three days each week using a variety of exercises and equipment.

With your mind set on how to achieve these recommendations, think about what activities you're able to do, then what activities you’d like to do. Your strategies don't have to fall into the rigid "exercise" category. Also keep in mind that normal daily habits that promote activity are just as beneficial for health and losing weight. Hiking, brisk walks, dancing, yard work and cleaning are all examples of activities which are acceptable for meeting the daily requirement of around 30 minutes of activity per day.

  • The key is to ensure that these activities are at a moderate enough intensity which will make you breathe harder than normal and for your heart rate to be noticeably increased.

The table below displays an estimate of the number of calories you can expect to burn at moderate intensity for a given activity. The numbers will vary greatly depending on the intensity, speed, incline and other factors.

Activities by Time / Calorie



Next, find out which activities you know you will do MOST OFTEN. This is the most important aspect of an exercise plan, because if being active always feels like a chore, it's not going to last. Make it fun, do it at home, at the gym, in groups, with friends, or whichever way will get you to do it and preferably do it in an enjoyable way.

Lastly, look at those who have been successful before you for guidance. The National Weight Control Registry is a networked list of thousands of people who have lost an average of 66lbs and kept it off for the long term. You can read about what methods led these people to successfully lose their weight. For example, in addition to eating breakfast and limiting TV watching time, 90% say they exercise on average about 1 hour per day.

  •   Remember that combining exercise with healthy eating and the right food choices can be an even more effective way to lose weight - read our article on foods for weight loss and good health for more information.

Hopefully, the ideas mentioned throughout this article will give you a framework to plan within. Around 30 minutes per day of activity is what’s recommended for general health and around 1 hour per day is what many successful weight loss participants have focused on. If doing 1 hour of activity seems like a lot to do off the bat, then start with a smaller amount and make sure to do activities that are somewhat enjoyable.

If you're stuck for time take a look at how to expend the most calories in a day which talks about high intensity training and how to burn the most calories within a short time frame. It may take time to build up the habit, but each day you train you’ll be moving one step closer to your goal of an ideal body weight.

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