Best exercise to lose weight: 7 workouts for fat loss

Best exercise to lose weight

7 workouts for fat loss

Women on beach doing Yoga

Exercise is an important part of losing weight. It is a fantastic way to burn calories, and comes with lots of extra health benefits for your general well-being.1

However, if you’re starting from scratch it can be hard to know where to start. What exactly are the best exercises to lose weight? You might have flashbacks to P.E. at school, and when you go to the gym now everyone seems to be an expert.

This doesn’t need to put you off planning exercise into your weight loss journey. There are plenty of ways to start small and build your way up. Weight loss is personal, so getting active can simply be a process of finding out what activities work for you.


30 minutes = 149-186 calories burned
Getting active doesn’t mean you should feel like you have to run a marathon or swim the English channel. In fact, walking is a great gentle way to kickstart your weight loss. It can easily be added to your daily routine and burns a surprising number of calories.

You don’t have to go for long walks to start feeling the benefits. You can integrate walking into your everyday life by making simple choices. Take the stairs rather than the lift, park a little further from the shops or walk to a further bus stop/train station. All these little choices can add up quickly to big gains.

Other advantages of walking are that it adds little additional stress on your joints, and requires no equipment to get started.2 You can walk by yourself, with a friend or as part of a walking group. If you are looking to join a group, there are plenty of walking groups that welcome beginners and newbies. Adding a social element to your walk can also help it feel more enjoyable and the time will pass faster.

Couple jogging on promenade


30 minutes = 298-614 calories burned
If you are looking to really start to supercharge your weight loss and lose weight fast, then jogging is a more vigorous option than a walk. You don’t have to jog a long distance on your first attempt, you can mix in jogging and walking at a pace you feel comfortable with as you build up your fitness.

If you want step-by-step instructions on how to develop jogging fitness, the NHS offers a great couch to 5km running plan. The guide explains how to go from a complete beginner to running 5km without stopping. Complete with week by week steps, the plan is the perfect way to sack the sofa and start moving more.


30 minutes = 223-409 calories burned
Swimming is a low-impact full body workout that can reduce body fat, improve flexibility and reduce heart disease risk factors.3 The number of calories you burn swimming will depend on your type of stroke and your speed. But even a gentle paddle will help you burn around 233 calories every 30 minutes.4

All you need to get started is a swimming outfit. This can be a swimming costume, although most swimming pools will let you wear what you want within reason. However, it is worth checking with your pool first if you wish to wear a non-swimming specific top and bottoms. If you prefer to cover-up when you swim, you can also pick-up long sleeve rash-tops and swimming leggings.

To find a local pool you can review local sports and fitness facilities in your area. Many pools offer beginner lessons just for adults when you are starting out. So don’t worry about being stuck in with the little ones! These classes can help you to build confidence in water and improve your technique so you get the most out of swimming.

Woman swimming

Gym classes

Calories burnt depends on class type
Going to the gym can feel scary, however don’t feel the need to jump straight to the heavier weights! Many gyms offer beginner classes where you’ll be able to meet people at the same level. You’ll also be able to get professional guidance on appropriate exercises for you. So, whether your end goal is losing weight or gaining muscle mass, you’ll be able to find plenty of advice on the best exercises to achieve it.

Don’t feel the need to pay full whack on membership straight from the off. Take advantage of free-trials and experiment with which gym is right for you. The staff will probably ask if you want full membership when the trial ends, but there is no obligation on your part to commit.

It is also important to remember, while it can feel intimidating at first, everyone in the gym has the same aim of getting fitter. You might even make friends who you can work out with. Having an exercise buddy can be a great form of motivation!

Woman shaking her head while dancing


30 minutes = 112-223 calories burned
If you are looking for a physical activity with a strong social element, dance can be a great option. The environment is often friendly and, if you don’t want to go alone, you can bring a friend. While some clubs and sessions will require a bit of experience, there are also plenty of dance options available for beginners. Classes can cost between £5-10 for a 90 minute session, and the music can make it barely feel like a full body exercise.5

It is a good idea to wear clothes that allow you to move freely. Some types of traditional dance classes also require specialist footwear (such as tap or jazz), so it is worth checking in advance.

In particular, fitness orientated dance classes have taken off over the last few years. You have probably heard of Zumba – an effective workout that can really raise your heart rate based on Latin dancing. It doesn’t require any prior experience and the aim is more to join in than get each move right.

Benefits of dancing include maintaining strong bones, improving posture and muscle strength, increasing balance and coordination, and beating stress.6


30 minutes = 298-614 calories burned
A passion for pedaling is a brilliant way to take part in a physical activity and enjoy the great outdoors. The number of calories you use will depend on how much effort you put in and how fast you go. But, even a relatively gentle cycle can burn 298 calories in 30 minutes.

Cycling has also grown as a form of transport over the last 20 years.7 People increasingly cycle to get to and from work, or just when making short journeys in their local area. Not having to find parking and being able to avoid traffic, means for short journeys a bicycle can be just as fast as a car in getting you to your end destination. As a result, using a bike as transport is an easy way to turn your commutes and journeys into an active weight loss session.8

Some of the health and weight loss benefits of using cycling as a form of transport9 continue even when using electrically assisted eBikes.10

While cycling may be associated with people squeezed into ill-fitting lycra, you can cycle wearing pretty much any outfit. However, a good tip is to avoid loose fitting trousers (as they can get caught in the chain) and in the long-run you may want to invest in a set of padded cycling shorts to protect your bottom.

If you prefer the great indoors, many gyms also have spin classes you can sign-up for. These can range from beginner to quite intense! Get to the class early and let the instructor know you’re new, they’ll be able to help you set up the bike and give you some pointers.

Two woman cycling on the Muur de geraardsbergen
Woman in yoga pose in a forest


30 minutes = 149 calories burned
Yoga is great for your body, it promotes movement, flexibility and physical activity. However, the extra advantage yoga can have in helping you lose weight is that it takes a holistic approach to looking after your body.

In fact, by encouraging mindfulness, healthy eating and inner strength, yoga has been shown to be better for your overall health than exercise alone.11 This means not only does yoga burn calories, but it can help you avoid eating those calories in the first place.

It is also important to not underestimate how good yoga can be for building strength. It may look zen, but you’ll quickly find it is a great form of strength training that works your upper and lower body!

All calorie usage is an estimate based on a 155-pound person participating in the activity for a 30 minute period.12

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