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How hard should I exercise to lose weight?

How hard should I exercise to lose weight?

Exercise at light, moderate, and hard intensities to lose weight.

All exercise counts and all intensity levels (light, medium, hard) count when it comes to losing weight. In general:

  • Light intensity exercise = low amount of effort
  • Moderate intensity exercise = medium amount of effort
  • Hard intensity exercise = high amount of effort

Exercise guidelines are generally given in terms of moderate intensity exercise:

  • 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week is recommended to promote and maintain health.
  • 200-300 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week is recommended to lose weight and keep it off.

Adults who have lost 66 lbs exercise at all intensity levels.

Adults (members of the National Weight Control Registry) who have lost an average of 66 lbs and kept it off for 5.5 years exercise at light, moderate, and hard intensity levels.

On average, they burn:

  • 165 calories a week exercising at a light intensity.
  • 630 calories a week exercising at a moderate intensity.
  • 890 calories a week exercising at a hard intensity.

They also burn an average of 175 calories walking up stairs each week and 750 calories walking outside (street blocks). The total number of calories burned each week is more than 2600 calories, which meets the recommended amount for weight loss.

What is light, moderate, and hard intensity?

Light intensity exercise:

You are probably exercising at a light intensity if you:

  • Feel like it requires a little amount of effort.
  • Can sing your favorite song while exercising.
  • Are walking or exercising a slow pace (for you).
Moderate intensity exercise

You are probably exercising at a moderate intensity if you:

  • Feel like it requires a medium amount of effort.
  • Can talk during exercise but can’t sing a song.
  • Are walking or exercising at a brisk pace (for you).
Hard intensity exercise

You are probably exercising at a hard intensity if you:

  • Feel like it requires a high amount of effort.
  • Have to catch your breath to answer a question.
  • Are running or exercising at a fast pace (for you).

You can burn the same number of calories exercising at a higher intensity for a shorter period of time as you can exercising at a lower intensity for a longer period of time. Calories burned exercising.

Sources:
Catenacci, V.A., Ogden, L.G., Stuht, J., Phelan, S., Wing, R.R., Hill, J.O., & Holly R. Wyatt. Physical Activity Patterns in the National Weight Control Registry. Obesity 2008; Vol 16, No 1.
ACSM Position Stand: Appropriate Intervention Strategies for Weight Loss and Prevention of Weight Gain for Adults



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Stephanie Averkamp

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FitnessforWeightLoss.com was created by Stephanie Averkamp, a recognized health and fitness professional and sole-author of the content on this website. Stephanie's approach to weight loss emphasizes making small, realistic, and permanent lifestyle changes. Read more...

Stephanie Averkamp

Our Approach: Short-term solutions (like dieting) are unrealistic and ineffective because at some point they end. As soon as a diet or program ends, so do the results. Permanent weight loss is a journey; it's not a race or competition and there is no finish line. Read more...