How Much Exercise Do We Need?

Learn about biking for weight loss.

How much exercise do we need to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle? The question is relatively straightforward, but the answer it not as clear-cut.

How Much Exercise Do We Need?

Do you ever wonder how much exercise do we need on a weekly basis? The answer varies according to the individual.

Expert Recommendations

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that healthy adults participate in at least two hours and 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week and another one hour of and 15 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week. Moderate aerobic activity includes brisk walking, shoveling snow or biking, while vigorous aerobic activity includes running or swimming fast laps. This breaks down to roughly 30 minutes of exercise per day.

However, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) states that 30 minutes of exercise, 7 days a week might not be enough. Experts at the college say new research indicates that 150 to 250 minutes per week of moderate intensity physical activity provides only modest weight loss. In order to lose a significant amount of weight (20 pounds or more) and keep it off, experts say a person should be exercising for at least 300 minutes per week. In addition to cardio exercise, individuals looking to lose weight faster should also be partaking in strength training exercises at least twice a week.

The bottom line, according to the experts, is if you want to lose weight you need to increase your activity level. The more time you can devote to exercise the better your chances of shedding unwanted pounds.

Crunching the Numbers

In order to determine how much exercise you need to do on a daily basis you must crunch numbers. To lose weight you need to burn more calories then you consume, which is why you must first note how many calories you take in per day. Use a food journal to keep track of what you eat and how many calories you consume. Next, jot down how many calories you burn each day.

Normal maintenance activities, such as digestion, breathing, muscle repair and simple walking burn about 15 calories per pound. However, this number can fluctuate depending on a person's overall physical health. For example, someone who is sedentary might only burn about 13 calories per pound, while someone who is in excellent physical shape may expend 17 or more calories per pound on normal maintenance activities.

Burning Calories

Exercise is a crucial part of weight loss, as you cannot burn calories without partaking in some type of physical activity. Each time you exercise you burn calories. For example, for every mile you walk or run you burn roughly 100 calories. The amount of calories expended depends on how much you weigh and how vigorous the activity, but for the most part an average adult can count on burning 300 calories while partaking in moderate physical activity for 30 minutes.

Therefore, if you increase your activity so that you are burning 500 calories a day and do not increase your calorie intake, you will lose 3500 calories a week, which is the equivalent of one pound. Another way to lose weight is to reduce your diet by 250 calories per day and increase your activity by 250 calories. The end result is still a net loss of 500 calories per day or one pound per week.

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How Much Exercise Do We Need?