A weight-loss journey can be intimidating. Eating the right food is one thing, but exercising is another story. You might feel like you’ll only see results if you train like a pro – all day, every day. Yet, the effects of exercise are so strong that small habits equal big changes. It’s the perfect reason to take your fitness routine down a notch. Yes, you read that right! Moderate activity is all you need to drop the pounds.
While intensity does matter, a hardcore routine isn’t necessary for weight loss. Instead, taking it easy can increase your chances of making it a regular habit, which matters so much more. Not convinced? Here are 3 ways to adopt a milder routine, and why it’s worth it.
1. Jogging: 1 – 2 Hours Per Week
The perks of jogging are no secret. It offers protection from diseases like type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, dementia, and heart diseases. Jogging also keeps weight gain at bay, which is great news if you’re trying to drop the pounds.1
In 2015, researchers in Copenhagen looked into just how much jogging is needed to reap the benefits. They found that light and moderate joggers have a 30% lower risk of death compared to sedentary folks. No surprise there! However, their findings on strenuous joggers were more intriguing. Die-hard runners actually had the same rate of death as sedentary people. Researchers saw a U-shaped curve of benefits, suggesting an upper limit to intense exercise.
So what does this mean for you? According to the study, jogging thrice a week for less than 2 or 2.5 hours in total is enough to improve health.2 Anything more than that might be unnecessary, proving that more isn’t always better.3
2. Strength Training: 1 – 2 Times Per Week
Weight loss doesn’t stop at cardio. Strength training, or resistance training, is just as vital. Muscle burns more calories than fat at rest, so having more muscle will only help your weight loss journey.4 Don’t worry – you don’t need to become a bodybuilder! Too much can actually harm the body and reduce the precious recovery time.
A 2012 study in the BMJ looked at this effect in Olympic athletes. Compared to those who practiced a mix of sports, athletes who engaged in power sports (like weight lifting) actually lived shorter lives.5 Again, for overall health effects, more is not always the way to go.
Shorter, high-intensity intervals are the best bet. And since they call for less time commitment, you can do it only twice a week and still see results.
3. Yoga: 2 – 3 Days A Week
As you adopt a more laid-back regimen, make more time for yoga. It’s rarely associated with weight loss, but it might be the missing piece. This is perfect for the “rest days” when you’re not all about breaking a sweat.
Despite its low-key nature, numerous clinical trials have shown that yoga can improve BMI, body fat, weight, and waist circumference. As compared to those who don’t practice yoga, people who do it on the regular are also 2 to 4 times less likely to gain weight.
Researchers credit yoga’s effect to the way it suppresses stress hormones, which then reduces binge eating. Increased muscle mass, insulin sensitivity, and metabolism have also been noted.6
Again, you don’t need to be a professional yogi. A practice that involves both breathing and physical poses can make a huge difference.
|↑1||Reiner, Miriam, Christina Niermann, Darko Jekauc, and Alexander Woll. “Long-term health benefits of physical activity–a systematic review of longitudinal studies.” BMC public health 13, no. 1 (2013): 813.|
|↑2, ↑3||Schnohr, Peter, James H. O’Keefe, Jacob L. Marott, Peter Lange, and Gorm B. Jensen. “Dose of jogging and long-term mortality: the Copenhagen City Heart Study.” Journal of the American College of Cardiology 65, no. 5 (2015): 411-419.|
|↑4||Muscle cells vs. fat cells. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑5||Clarke, Philip M., Simon J. Walter, Andrew Hayen, William J. Mallon, David M. Studdert, and Jeroen HEIJMANS. “Survival of the fittest: retrospective cohort study of the longevity of Olympic medallists.” BMJ 345, no. 7888 (2012): 22-25.|
|↑6||Ross, A., A. Brooks, K. Touchton-Leonard, and G. Wallen. “A different weight loss experience: a qualitative study exploring the behavioral, physical, and psychosocial changes associated with yoga that promote weight loss.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2016 (2016).|