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Many types of physical activity can support weight loss by increasing the calories you burn. The amount of weight you can expect to lose may vary depending on your age, diet, and starting weight.

Estimates state that around half of all American adults attempt to lose weight yearly.

Exercising is one of the most common strategies employed by those trying to shed a few pounds. It burns calories, and this plays a key role in weight loss.

In addition to helping you lose weight, exercise has many other benefits, including improved mood, stronger bones, and a reduced risk of many chronic diseases.

Here are the eight best exercises for weight loss.

Walking can be a convenient way for many beginners to exercise without feeling overwhelmed or needing to purchase equipment. It’s also a lower-impact exercise, meaning it’s less likely to stress your joints.

According to the American Council on Exercise, a 140-pound (65-kilogram) person burns about 7.6 calories per minute walking. A 180-pound (81-kg) person burns about 9.7 calories per minute walking.

A 12-week study of 20 women with obesity found that walking for 50–70 minutes 3 times per week reduced body fat and waist circumference by an average of 1.5% and 1.1 inches (2.8 cm), respectively.

To get started, aim to walk for 30 minutes 3–4 times a week. You can gradually increase the duration or frequency of your walks as you become more fit.

Although they seem similar, the key difference is that a jogging pace is generally between 4–6 mph (6.4–9.7 km/h), while a running pace is faster than 6 mph (9.7 km/h).

The American Council on Exercise estimates that a 140-pound (65-kg) person burns about 10.8 calories per minute jogging and 13.2 calories per minute when running.

A 180-pound (81-kg) person burns about 13.9 calories per minute jogging and 17 calories per minute when running.

Researchers have found that jogging and running can help burn visceral fat, commonly known as belly fat. This type of fat wraps around your internal organs and has links to various chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

To get started, aim to jog for 20–30 minutes 3–4 times per week.

If you find jogging or running outdoors hard on your joints, try running on softer surfaces like grass. Many treadmills have built-in cushioning, which may be easier on your joints.

Cycling is a non-weight-bearing and low impact exercise, so it won’t place much stress on your joints.

The American Council on Exercise estimates that a 140-pound (65-kg) person burns about 6.4 calories per minute cycling at a speed of 10 miles per hour (MPH). A 180-pound (81-kg) person burns about 8.2 calories per minute cycling at 10 MPH.

Studies have also found that people who cycle regularly have better overall fitness, increased insulin sensitivity, and a lower risk of heart disease, cancer, and death than those who don’t cycle regularly.

Although cycling is traditionally an outdoor activity, many gyms and fitness centers have stationary bikes that allow you to cycle while staying indoors.

Weight training can help build strength and promote muscle growth, raising your resting metabolic rate (RMR), or how many calories your body burns at rest.

The American Council on Exercise estimates that a 140-pound (65-kg) person burns about 7.6 calories per minute of weight training. A 180-pound person burns about 9.8 calories per minute of weight training.

One 6-month study showed that doing 11 minutes of strength-based exercises three times per week resulted in an average 7.4% increase in metabolic rate. In this study, that increase was equivalent to burning an additional 125 calories per day.

Another study found that 24 weeks of weight training led to a 9% increase in men’s metabolic rate, equating to burning approximately 140 more calories per day. Among women, the increase in metabolic rate was nearly 4% or 50 more calories per day.

In addition, studies have shown that your body continues to burn calories many hours after a weight-training workout, compared with aerobic exercise.

Interval training, more commonly known as high intensity interval training (HIIT), is a broad term for short bursts of intense exercise that alternate with recovery periods.

Typically, a HIIT workout lasts 10–30 minutes and can burn many calories.

One study of 9 active men found that HIIT burned 25–30% more calories per minute than other types of exercises, including weight training, cycling, and running on a treadmill.

That means HIIT can help you burn more calories while exercising less.

Numerous studies have shown that HIIT is especially effective at burning belly fat, which has links to many chronic diseases.

To get started, choose a type of exercise, such as running, jumping, or biking, and your exercise and rest times.

For example, pedal as hard as you can on a bike for 30 seconds, then pedal slowly for 1–2 minutes. Repeat this pattern for 10–30 minutes.

The American Council on Exercise estimates that a 140-pound (65-kg) person burns about 9 calories per minute swimming at a crawl or moderate pace.

A 180-pound (81-kg) person burns about 11.6 calories per minute swimming at a crawl or moderate pace.

How you swim appears to affect how many calories you burn. One study on competitive swimmers found that the most calories were burned during the breaststroke, followed by the butterfly, backstroke, and freestyle.

One 12-week study in 24 middle-aged women found that swimming for 60 minutes 3 times per week significantly reduced body fat, improved flexibility, and reduced several heart disease risk factors, including high total cholesterol and blood triglycerides.

Swimming is its low impact nature, meaning it’s easier on your joints. This makes it a great option for people with injuries or joint pain.

While it’s not commonly considered a weight loss exercise, yoga burns a fair amount of calories and offers many additional health benefits that can promote weight loss.

A 12-week study of 60 women with obesity found that those who participated in two 90-minute yoga sessions per week experienced greater reductions in waist circumference than those in the control group — by 1.5 inches (3.8 cm), on average.

The yoga group also experienced improvements in mental and physical well-being. In fact, studies have shown that yoga can teach mindfulness and reduce stress levels.

Most gyms offer yoga classes, but you can practice yoga anywhere. This includes from the comfort of your own home, as there are plenty of guided tutorials online.

According to a study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise, a person weighing around 140 pounds (64 kg) would burn 108 calories at a 30-minute beginner’s Pilates class or 168 calories at an advanced class of the same duration.

Although Pilates may not burn as many calories as aerobic exercises like running, many people find it enjoyable, which makes it easier to stick to over time.

An 8-week study in 37 middle-aged women found that performing Pilates exercises for 90 minutes 3 times per week significantly reduced waist, stomach, and hip circumference, compared with a control group that did no exercise over the same period.

Pilates may also reduce lower back pain and improve strength, balance, flexibility, endurance, and overall fitness.

You can do Pilates at home or at one of the many gyms that offer Pilates classes.

To further boost weight loss with Pilates, combine it with a balanced diet and other forms of exercise, such as weight training or cardio.

It’s important to remember that weight loss is not a linear process, and it’s common to find yourself losing weight more quickly when you first start.

How much weight you can expect to lose from exercise depends on your:

  • Starting weight: People with a higher starting weight typically have a higher BMR. This is the number of calories your body burns when performing basic life-preserving functions. A high BMR means you will burn more calories during activity and rest.
  • Age: Older people tend to carry more fat and less muscle mass, reducing their BMR. A lower BMR can make it more difficult to lose weight.
  • Sex: People assigned female at birth (AFAB) tend to have a greater fat-to-muscle ratio than those assigned male (AMAB), which can affect BMR. As a result, AMAB individuals tend to lose weight quicker than AFAB folks, even if each group consumes a similar number of calories.
  • Diet: Weight loss occurs when you burn more calories than you consume. Thus, a calorie deficit is essential to losing weight.
  • Sleep: Studies have found that a lack of sleep may slow the rate at which you lose weight and even increase your cravings for high calorie foods.
  • Medical conditions: People with medical conditions like depression and hypothyroidism may lose weight at a slower rate.
  • Genetics: Studies have shown that weight loss has a genetic component, which may affect certain people with obesity.

Although most people want to lose weight quickly, experts often recommend losing no more than 1–2 pounds (0.5–1.36 kg), or approximately 1% of your body weight, per week.

Losing weight too fast can have negative health consequences. It can result in muscle loss and increase your risk of:

People who lose weight too fast are also more prone to regaining it.

Some great choices for burning calories include walking, jogging, running, cycling, swimming, weight training, interval training, yoga, and Pilates.

Many other exercises can also help boost your weight loss efforts.

It’s most important to choose an exercise that you enjoy doing. This makes it more likely that you’ll stick to it long-term and see results.