How Much Exercise Do You Need To Lose Weight?

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Whenever I’ve looked into information about losing weight, and how much time you should be exercising every day in order to lose weight, I would always hear a quote about how you need to exercise 30 minutes a day 3-5 times a week in order to see any type of sustainable weight loss.

how much exercise to lose weight

Today I was reading an article on that wants to modify that notion a bit.  30 minutes 5 times a week may not be enough any more!

Greater amounts of physical activity than currently recommended may be necessary to prevent people from gaining weight, and to help them lose weight and keep it off, according to updated guidelines issued by the American College of Sports Medicine.

In a 2001 position paper, the ACSM recommended a minimum of 150 minutes per week (roughly 30 minutes per day 5 times per week) of moderate-intensity physical activity for overweight and obese adults to improve health; however, 200 to 300 minutes per week was recommended for long-term weight loss.

“More recent evidence has supported this recommendation and has indicated that more physical activity may be necessary to prevent weight regain after weight loss,” reads the ACSM’s position paper published in the latest issue of the College’s journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

Specifically, evidence published after 1999 indicates that between 150 and 250 minutes per week of moderate intensity physical activity is effective in preventing weight gain greater than 3% in most adults but will provide “only modest” weight loss.

Greater amounts of weekly physical activity — in the order of 250 minutes or more per week — have been associated with “significant” weight loss, the ACSM notes. Overweight and obese adults will most likely lose more weight and keep it off with at least 250 minutes per week of exercise.

So if you want to lose a significant amount of weight – and keep it off, you should be exercising at least 250 minutes per week, or 50 minutes a day 5 times a week. Ok, that’s doable!

They also suggest including weight training as a part of your regimen,  to help increase your fat free body mass.

Once you’ve lost the weight,  continue on with your new fit habits to keep the weight off!

How much are you exercising every week? Is it enough? Do you need to be exercising more?

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

the weakonomist March 19, 2009 at 10:58 am

It isn’t about how much you exercise, it’s how many net calories you burn. If you take in 2,000 calories a day and burn 2,500 calories, then you lose 500 calories of fat. A pound of fat is 3,500 calories, so with a net loss of 500 calories a day you burn a pound of fat a week. Not that I’m pretending to be an expert, but I did lose 75 lbs in high school.

The real secret to losing weight is diet, exercise is a complement to the diet.

That being said I love food, so I exercise a lot to keep the weight off. I walk about 10-15 miles a week, jog another 10, and lift weights twice a week.


Peter March 19, 2009 at 11:00 am

Good point, it isn’t all about the exercise, it’s about changing your diet AND exercising, a combination of the two.


The Wife March 19, 2009 at 11:25 am

I used to always make a diet or exercise plan in reference to what I was already doing (i.e., “I’ll eat half of what I do normally” or “I’ll exercise 20 minutes more than I usually do”). When I finally started balancing my diet and exercise relative to each other (calories in-calories out) the weight started dropping.

The Wifes last blog post..How Can You Go Wrong Offering Wife, “Whatever You Like”?


MoneyEnergy March 19, 2009 at 11:46 am

Those numbers make sense to me. Just doing that “20 minutes 3x a week” is really only enough to reduce stress levels and raise over all well-being with blood flow, etc.

For me, true weight loss only comes ALSO with revisiting all your eating patterns too.

MoneyEnergys last blog post..Derek Foster Cashes Out of the Stock Market


JC March 20, 2009 at 9:36 am

As others have said, it’s all about calorie balance. If I am going through a period where I have no time to do extra exercise(other than weight training), I will just drop my calories drastically and eat mainly lean protein to burn fat at a rapid pace. If I am going to be really active or have time to do extra walking around, I will create a moderate deficit and ride it out.

These generalities are good for the common person to stick with a certain program to ensure weight loss occurs. There is a lot of magic in eating less and moving more, just don’t tell the masses that is what you are having them do.

JCs last blog post..How To Ensure You Achieve Your Fitness Goals


AndrewE March 23, 2009 at 2:58 am

I would agree with about an hour most days for sure. It works for me.

AndrewEs last blog post..My new treadmill


Emily April 7, 2009 at 8:05 am

I recently came across an interesting survey asking Which stresses you out more: Your Weight or the Economy? For many women, the daily stress of appearance and weight can take a lot of energy.


Kevin Yates May 12, 2009 at 2:40 pm

Generally speaking we’ve all heard about eating less and exercising more or burning more calories than you eat to lose weight.

But, with such generalized guidelines how do you know what the ideal amount of exercise is for you?

Many people use the ‘more is better’ philosophy and get great results training an hour or more 5-6 days a week while others on the same program wind up with pain or getting injured because the volume and physical stress is too much for their bodies.

A good example of this is the television show “The Biggest Loser”. The contestants work out in excess of 5 hours every day. Sure they lose a LOT of weight, but have you ever noticed how many of the contestants end up with injuries?

I’ve used shorter volume, higher intensity programs for many of my clients with great results. As long as the intensity is appropriate for you you can get many benefits such as:

-burning more calories in a shorter amount of time
-add lean muscle (more muscle = more calories burned per day)
-burning more calories and body fat in the hours after your workout
-experience less protein (muscle) breakdown

Kevin Yatess last blog post..Golf Shoulder Exercises To Prevent Golf Swing Shoulder Pain


Matt S May 20, 2009 at 6:19 pm

A few years back, Dr. John Berardi began speaking about his famous g-flux principles (nutrition prodigy, former competitive body builder, now owner of several health companies).

To sum up g-flux quickly, it is a focus on training multiple energy systems. Therefore, one should be performing a VARIETY of activities.

The most important of these is weightlifting, in terms of structurally improving your body and adding muscle which will drastically increase metabolism. Steady-state cardio (ie 45 minute jogs) ONLY produce an IMMEDIATE caloric deficit. In other words, negligible improvements in metabolism are seen.

After weightlifting, the most effective methods seem to be HIIT, circuits, and lastly steady state cardio (low intensity, perhaps an 30-60 min walks or <70% maxHR jogs).

To get back to the article, 30 minutes a day will be enough exercise for sedentary people at first. But not for long, as the author stated!!

The reason for this is adaptation. Again and again, with BOTH cardio AND weights one must aim for PROGRESSION. If time or intensity is not increasing steadily (slowly is ok!), then no visible progress can occur.

Good read though, people need to know that there is a bit more to fitness than what meets the eye!


Vlad December 31, 2009 at 3:34 pm

I exercise vigorously for at least an hour a day on a cross-trainer or recumbent bike and do weight training every other day for another hour. That does not include regular walks etc. I am in very good shape. However, I still have a bit of a belly: not much, but my abdomen is not flat. Admittedly, I have a sweet tooth. Still, it’s odd that my above-average exercise routine does not suffice to get rid of the extra 5 pounds that I have around the midsection. Go figure.


Tom@ Best Fat January 12, 2010 at 8:08 pm

I’m 56 years old and I can tell you that it is extremely difficult to lose weight when you get older. I have been a runner for many years but I have been steadily gaining weight for the past few years. This really didn’t feel too good as I was accustomed to eating the way that I wanted with little concern for weight gain as long as I did my daily run.

I’ve learned now that I have to run intervals so that I shock my system a bit in order to get it to burn fat. So, now I run intervals 3-4 times per week and watch my diet pretty closely.
Tom@ Best Fat´s last blog ..Do Follow Blog, Comment Luv Keyword Luv


vannie June 7, 2010 at 4:12 am

I would like to add this.It is common believe that the fatburning start at 20 minutes of exercise.If you just exercise 30 minutes you burn fat 10 minutes.BUT this not true because the fatburning process keeps on going for 3 hours more….At least that’s what I have read.So It definely makes sense to exercise 30 minutes.


Sharath December 1, 2013 at 10:01 pm

I have been working out for a while and it’s like 30 min 4x a week. Looks like i’ll have to step it up a bit. improve 10 min in the next week may be? let’s see :)


Henry December 2, 2013 at 6:35 pm

I was going at a good pace a few years back. Now (I am 42), it is very hard to do it for even like 20 min. But since I am used to this, may be I can try a bit more hard.


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