The Single Best Exercise for Weight Loss

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Often people will ask me to share the best exercises for weight loss. They want to know what kind of cardio activity is going to help them lose weight faster than anything else. Even if they don't enjoy it, they are willing to try whatever is going to help them reach their goals more quickly. My response is always the same. So are you ready to hear what the magic exercise is? What's going to help you lose weight keep it off long-term, and get fit?

The answer is simple: Find the activities you enjoy doing and stick with them. It's true that some activities burn more calories than others. You'll burn more in 45 minutes of running than you will in 45 minutes of walking. But if you hate to run, chances are that you're not going to be able to keep it up forever. Exercise becomes a chore, something you dread instead of something that brings enjoyment to your life. I always cringe when I see people post things like this on the SparkPeople Message Boards: "I hate running and have no interest in doing it. But I feel like I have to run if I'm going to lose weight, so can you give me some tips for how to enjoy it?" My response is usually to try it if you haven't before, but don't be afraid to do something else instead of it's just not working for you. I've tried swimming before. It was a great workout, very challenging, but not something I enjoyed at all. So I decided that swimming just wasn't for me and moved on to other activities instead.

We all have those days when we don't want to exercise. Although I love running, I don't jump out of bed every single morning, full of energy and ready to go. There are some days when I'd much rather stay in bed. But for the most part, I've found something I enjoy doing, so it's easier to stick with it. And to keep things interesting, I like to train for different races, incorporate different kinds of runs and different routes into my routine. That way my body is continually challenged and I don't get bored.

Putting personal preferences aside, if you look strictly at what exercises are considered "best", you'll get a wide variety of professional opinions. Exercise physiologists will give answers based on what exercises burn the most calories, which ones provide the most strength benefits, which ones increase power or flexibility. It just depends on your goals and your body. Every body responds differently to different exercises, and everyone has different opinions about what activities we should be doing.

Regardless of the activity, the fact that you are exercising at all is most important. You don't have to train for marathons and spend hours at the gym to be healthy. "A recent meta-analysis of studies about exercise and mortality showed that, in general, a sedentary person’s risk of dying prematurely from any cause plummeted by nearly 20 percent if he or she began brisk walking (or the equivalent) for 30 minutes five times a week. If he or she tripled that amount, for instance, to 90 minutes of exercise four or five times a week, his or her risk of premature death dropped by only another 4 percent."

What do you think? Does your exercise routine reflect the activities you enjoy doing the most? Why or why not?

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
See more: fitness weight loss


CECELW 3/25/2021
I work out most days of the week Report
REGWRITER 1/14/2021
Have yet to find anything I really enjoy. I'm not good at the exercise for the sake of exercise thing and don't live in a neighborhood where I feel safe walking around without company or a purpose. Report
PATRICIAAK 11/18/2020
:) Report
PATRICIAAK 9/26/2020
:) Report
I try to walk/jog/run everyday. I used to push myself to do it, but now it is just natural. Report
This is really wonderful blog, I learned a lot from here, keep up the good work. Report
Sound advice. I must be something you enjoy! Report
The BEST exercise is one that you can stick with long term. Report
I currently walk & would bicycle if someone woukd ride w/ me where we had dedicated bike paths. Traffic ehere I live is so insafe. Not sure how far cuz my butt hurts but I like the scenery. Planning to relocate within 6-12 months & will be getting a treadmill & stationary bike; maybe an elliptical too. Looking at lakefront property so swimming & boating/canoeing or rowing will be part of my retirement too. Can't wait, I'm really looking forward to having a dedicated fitness room at home. Oh and eventually a dog to walk. Report
Thanks for the reminder. And as a bonus, no equipment to buy! Report
Thank you for the information Report
Definitely have to choose to do something you will keep on doing, so that means you have to at least like to do it! Report
Awesome...thanks.... Report
Good article. Thanks for sharing. Report
Good info. I try to jog a little in place or do jump rope or step aerobics. Problem solved. Report
Absolutely true Report
Thanks for sharing! Report
I love walking with my husband, but we walk at different paces and paths to keep variety. I used to stationary bike, but pain in my knees stopped that. Report
I love to walk but hate running. Report
I love to walk, especially with my little dog. It is good for both of us and it makes him so happy and I find that I am happier after we walk. I love to swim as well and get such a serotonin rush while in the water. Strength training is important to me as well. As, I age, I am more aware of how important maintaining strength is. Report
...yes, i am doing what i enjoy...that consists of stationary bike, yoga and stretching(for chronic back pain)... thanks for the article...insightful information...
04/09/18 Report
Great info. Thanks Report
Great info! Report
I was surprised at the modest increase of 4% when time soent walking increased. Still 4% is nothing to sneeze at when added to the other. After considering this info, I still hold that daily ex is ideal, especially if you enjoy it. Report
I like to mix it up. I need to start concentrating more on my strength training. But walking and yoga along with dance are doing it for me right now. Report
Thanks for sharing Report
It's always good to have fun! Report
Really enjoying what you do is key in anything in life. Report
You will still have to mix it up so that your body does not get used to doing the same thing over and over. Report
This is why I joined a sports team (roller derby). No matter how varying the routines, exercising just for the sake of exercising is boring to me--I can't stick with it! But working out as part of practice, doing what I can to gain strength to be better at my sport, THAT I can stick to! Report
My choir director has us rehearse while sitting on exercise balls. Great for building abs and no pain. It's fun so I bought one for home. Try it! Report
Love this article and something that I mentioned in my blog regarding food - you have to try things out and stick with what works for you - later modifying to achieve optimal results. Great article! Report
Thank you for this article. There are so many wonderful exercise that with my limitations are horrible for me. It's nice to know that the things I enjoy doing and am able to do are good enough, as long as I stay as active as I can!! Report
I love walking and can go for hours in pretty much all types of weather. I don't mind snow but heavy rain is definitely a quencher. I went for a walk during our last heavy snowfall and had several people stop to ask if I needed a ride or had far to go. They looked at me as if I had rocks for brains when I said I was out because I wanted to be! Slogging through 6 inches of snow is an excellent workout and it definitely burnt through some calories! Report
I've always enjoyed walking and walking continues to be a daily exercise. At the gym I do a fast walk on the treadmill and with hip hop music, it is FUN! Report
I Love swimming I swim Laps an actual 2.1 mile and 3.1 mile .... Report
I Love swimming I swim Laps an actual 2.1 mile and 3.1 mile .... Report
I love to walk, and I enjoy using me stationary bike -- I really do use it, and not as a clothes rack. I hate -- really hate -- extreme exertion, and I never keep up any high-exertion exercise long enough for it to do me any good. I sort of wish I could run, but I can't. I can walk, and I actually do that. Report
For me, it's put on the heart pumping tunes and get going! Even housework can be a workout if you walk in place while doing dishes, switch arms while vacuuming, and see how you work the other side, squat instead of bend over (we should do this all the time, anyway) when you pick things up off the floor. (and hold the squat for a count of 5-10 ! Now that's "cleaning up"! Report
Gearing up for 1/1. I know, so cliche! Reading these comments has inspired me to try Zumba - many seem to enjoy it. Went running in my youth, but the knees won't allow it anymore. Walking works for me, but not so much in winter. Good luck to everyone in 2016! Report
Mixing it up is the answer for me. I'll stop doing anything if I get bored with it. So I alternate days when I run, go to the gym, or just walk the dog. Report
I don't like formal exercise. But...I love to dance. I slip on my sneakers, crank up the music, turn on a fan, and basically jog in place without lifting my feet off the ground. I twist my hips from side to side to the music, feet apart about 1 foot wide, and move in a jogging motion, arms bent. Move fast to the music and enjoy getting your heart rate up and getting "exercise"! Report
You know when I read about people not liking to run , I just wish that someone would realize that there are many people , including myself , because of an accident and my daughter , because of an illness and many , many more people who can not run, no matter how much we would like to. Report
I used to hate running/brisk walking, found it boring. I enjoy it a lot more on the treadmill (mixing up speeds and inclines) when I watch Youtube videos instead of listening to music. I'm doing Couch to 5K now to train for my first 5K. I'm super excited and psyched to try 5Ks, not to compete with others but just to know I crossed the finish line and completed a goal. I couldn't care less even if I come in last! And no, I won't watch Youtube while running an official 5K. ;) Report
In my younger days I was addicted to exercise, after doing no exercise for 30 years I'm enjoying a whole different workout. My favorites are ab strengthening, but I also do stretches and other muscle building exercises. I'm definitely not a runner, but I have incorporated it into my walk and it works for me. Report
I love to walk!!!!! I get really irritable when I can't do it. Not a stroll, mind you, but a nice brisk walk. If I could walk all day I would! :) Report
Yes, my exercise routine reflects the activities I enjoy the most. I do follow the advice given in the article. I do love exercising. I love how strong my body is & how strong I feel when I'm done. Report