With everyone stuck at home thanks to Lockdown 2.0, many people have already started seeing the result of a sedentary lifestyle: weight gain. And although we are still allowed to go outside to exercise, given the awful weather and the fact that it’s getting dark sooner, we all wonder: what’s the best type of exercise for quick weight loss?
It’s not like we don’t like exercising. But when it comes to weight loss, we want to do it quickly. No one likes prolonged periods of starvation or going on special diets such as the keto diet or intermittent fasting (as good as they are). We much better follow a live class and burn some calories on the best exercise bikes or on the best rowing machines. But either of these exercises are good for weight loss?
Luckily, no need to guess as someone already did the math for us. In a recent study, Ocean Finance looked at ‘The Most Time-Efficient Exercises for Losing Lockdown Pounds‘ and concluded that there is one exercise that rules them all, so to say. As well as that, the research also looked at the ‘best value for money’ exercise, one that cost the least to invest in when it comes to losing a pound-worth of fat.
Needless to say, the results need to be taken with a pinch of salt. First and foremost, the research assumes that “it takes an average of 3,500 calories burned to lose a single pound”, which is at best a dated approach and is based on a 1958 study by Max Wishnofsky. This estimate has been if not debunked but at least challenged a few times in the last half a century.
Also, even if the ‘3,500/pound of fat’ model would be correct, it is worth noting that people burn fat differently, depending on their biological sex, their age and many other factors. We must appreciate that some corners will need to be cut to be able to present such information in a concise way.
All that said, the research provides some useful data and does a good job in comparing different type of exercises, at least on a theoretical level. Without further ado, here is the chart that showcases how long it takes each exercise to burn one pound of body fat (3,500 calories):
The top five results are as follows:
- Treadmill (10 mph): this activity will burn 495 calories in half an hour if you weigh around 9 stones, 614 calories if you are 11 stones and 733 calories if you are 13 stones. Admittedly, 10 mph is a moderate effort run for joggers and a high effort activity for more sedentary people.
- Treadmill (7.5 mph): a slower pace on the treadmill will burn 375 calories in half an hour if you weigh around 9 stones, 465 calories if you are 11 stones and 555 calories if you are 13 stones. Not quite as good as running at 10 mph but still pretty decent.
- Elliptical trainer (moderate): a surprise entry, using the elliptical at a ‘moderate pace’ will burn 315 calories in half an hour if you weigh around 9 stones, 391 calories if you are 11 stones and 466 calories if you are 13 stones. Using the elliptical trainer is probably a better option for heavier and older people as it is a more joint-friendly activity than running, even on a treadmill.
- Exercise bike (vigorous): an even more surprising fact that vigorous exercise bike sessions will burn less calories than moderate workouts on the elliptical. This activity will burn 300 calories in half an hour if you weigh around 9 stones, 372 calories if you are 11 stones and 444 calories if you are 13 stones.
- Step aerobics (high impact): This activity will burn 285 calories in half an hour if you weigh around 9 stones, 353 calories if you are 11 stones and 422 calories if you are 13 stones.
Evidently, when it comes to fat loss and calories burned, nothing beats moderate to fast sessions on the treadmill! No wonder all the best treadmills sold out pretty much straight away when the OG lockdown started.
Surprisingly, the second best thing to do is to jump on an elliptical trainer and exercise bikes are a close third. This is good news since the best exercise bikes and the best ellipticals are still somewhat available to buy, especially if you look at the right place.
Looking for an even cheaper way to work out? Calisthenics and circuit training (a.k.a. HIIT) is not far down the list and both can be performed using little to no home gym equipment. If you are up to the challenge, check out the Mike Tyson bodyweight workout or the best bodyweight workout for beginners.
One more thing we wanted to mention is the last entry on the list, weightlifting (moderate). Although the actual sessions will not burn an awful lot of calories but resistance training is still a great way to lose weight and keep it off.
A 2010 study called “Strength training and weight loss” concluded by saying “strength training can actually help weight loss as an excellent complement to aerobic exercise training and diet. The mechanisms that govern this process are (a) increasing or maintaining their resting metabolic rate, (b) increase in total energy expenditure considering their own strength activity and (c) also the effects related to excessive oxygen consumption after exercise.”