You know that in order to meet your weight-loss goals you are going to have to get in some regular exercise. After all, exercise burns calories and builds muscle, helping boost your metabolism. But who has the time to spend hours at the gym every day — not to mention the time it takes to get there, shower and drive home? Getting in a good workout can eat up a good two hours of your precious time.
But contrary to what you might think, exercise doesn’t have to take hours to be effective. Here are a few of our best tips to squeeze the most out of your workouts, maximize fat loss, improve strength and save time.
The Guidelines for Physical Activity set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week (about 30 minutes a day) or 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week to maintain health. As you can see, as the intensity increases, you can get the same benefit in half the time. You may need more than this if your goal is weight loss, but this is a place to start. So next time you jump on the treadmill, pick up the pace or crank up the incline to boost your intensity.
HIIT stands for “high-intensity interval training,” an exercise method where you go all out for short intervals, with a period of rest in between. The “workout period” can be anywhere from 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest, to a few minutes with a longer rest. The point is to increase your heart rate over and over again, strengthening this important muscle and burning more calories.
HIIT can lead to all-day calorie burn. It has been shown to increase post-exercise calorie burn for 24 hours after completion of the workout. So after one of these sweat sessions you will be burning more calories all day, which makes your weight-loss efforts more effective.
NEAT stands for “non-exercise activity thermogenesis”; it represents the calories you burn doing day-to-day activities, like brushing your teeth or getting dressed. Increasing your physical activity level and sitting less often can really contribute to your overall calorie expenditure for the day.
When it comes to NEAT, the little things add up, so look for ways you can be more physically active throughout your day. You have probably heard you should take the stairs instead of the elevator when possible, or park your car further away from your destination. Another way to increase NEAT is to be inefficient with household tasks. For example when emptying the dishwasher, pick up one dish at a time and place it in the cabinet. This forces you to move more during a simple task.
Also, try to minimize the time you spend sitting each day. Get up and take a short walking break every hour, or consider a treadmill desk to help keep you moving.
Exercise helps burn calories, keeps your heart healthy, and relieves stress, but a good diet is where the magic happens. You can exercise all you want, but if you are overeating you will not see results. A well-balanced diet is the best way to optimize your workout efforts and reach your goal.
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