The shortest possible answer to this question is – use a combination of weight-bearing exercises, also known as strength training and aerobic or cardio exercises for best results when it comes to weight loss. However, this answer might seem to be a bit too general – because it is. The same is true for most questions regarding optimising your exercise routine in order to contribute to your general heath.

What’s on this page?

According to NHS, 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of intense activity per week should be complemented with strength exercises on at least two and ideally more days per week.

However, keep in mind that in order to ensure the optimal results, you must also adhere to the diet regimen structured by your doctor.

Why is exercise important?

Exercising is often recommended by health experts, nutritionists and other experts in the fields closely related to health. And this is not without good reason – exercising is highly beneficial for health in numerous ways:

  • Reducing the risk of developing major illnesses including heart disease, type-2 diabetes and certain types of cancer
  • Regular physical activity has been proven to be beneficial for mental health
  • Moderate exercise facilitates the release of dopamine and serotonin in the brain, thus boosting the mood
  • Most people leading a physically active life report significant positive improvement in their state of mind
  • Lack of physical exercise contributes to low moods, depression and anxiety

It goes without saying that in the recent decades, people in the developed world have become increasingly less active. Most of us spend as much as seven or more hours per day sitting down, mostly because an ever-increasing number of occupations involve sitting in front of a computer screen without any physical labour whatsoever.

Because of this changes in human society, physical activity became something that requires a certain level of personal commitment and something that is firmly placed in our free time, which we again tend to commonly spend engaging in leisure activities that involve little to no physical activity.

Thus, committing enough time to exercise is crucial not only for those trying to lose weight, but also for those who are employed in positions that involve long periods of inactivity.

Exercise and weight loss

Losing weight involves adhering to both dietary regimen and exercise routine – both of these are aimed at creating a calorie deficit, or in other words, the situation where the body burns more calories than it consumes. According to National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), an attainable lifestyle change is the key to losing weight successfully with much better results than rapid weight loss schemes which seem to be not only ineffective, but also hard to maintain. Drastic diets have been confirmed time and time again to be both unsustainable and short-term.

We don’t even have to emphasise that people who are not physically active have much higher risk of becoming obese or overweight as compared to people engaged in active lifestyle. According to the NHS, adults taking part in both strength and aerobic activities each way are, in general, much less likely to encounter health issues and much more likely to notice significant improvements when it comes to their general health.

This involves 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise (so-called cardio exercises such as fast walking, cycling or swimming) with two or more days of strength exercises (such as lifting weights, yoga or bodyweight exercises).

Both types of exercise are essential as they achieve different results, albeit directed at the same goal. More specifically, aerobic activity or cardio exercises

  • Burn calories
  • Increase stamina
  • Strengthen the heart
  • Reduce cholesterol

On the other hand, strength exercises

  • Increase muscle tone
  • Improve flexibility and balance
  • Boost metabolic rate

Thus, the combination of both seems to produce the best results when it comes to weight loss. At the same time, higher muscle mass as a result of strength exercises can contribute to higher metabolic rate, allowing more calories to be burnt during physical activity. At the same time, doing too much cardio can train the body to actually store fat because it will change focus to endurance instead of muscle building. Another danger of excessive cardio exercises is draining energy levels to such an extent that overeating in compensation might occur.

Diet or exercise: Which works better?

The best answer to this question is that neither can contribute to successful and long-term weight loss without the other. Maintaining and achieving a healthy weight is never only about diet, nor only about exercising. Only the combination of the two can ensure positive outcome.

A diet rich in nutrients and varied in its elements, when paired with regular physical activity can lay the foundations not only for successful weight loss, but also for an overall improvement in your general health.

People prescribed weight loss medications by their doctors will also not be able to rely solely on their medicines, but will also be required to adhere to the dietary requirements and undertake regular physical activity.