Aerobic exercises like walking, swimming, or biking are great for your cardiovascular system and do burn a few calories, but they are not the most efficient way to lose weight. In some cases you might even gain weight! Why? Aerobic exercise tends to make you hungry, making you want to go home and eat the calories you just burned!
If you really want to shed inches, you need to do some strengthening exercise. Muscle burns calories even when you are at rest, so the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn throughout the day. You need not step foot in a gym to get a good strengthening workout. Sometimes the simplest things are the most effective. A few of my favorites include:
1. Squats- This exercise is great for your legs, butt, and abs. You can do it with or without weights (I use my son as a weight- he loves it!). In order to protect your back, keep a slight curve in your lower back, hinge from your hips and stick out your butt like you are about to sit down in a chair. Never let your knees go past your toes. Most of your weight should be in your heels. If you have knee problems, only squat halfway.
2. Lunges- Just like squats, lunges are great for the lower half of your body and core. Simply step one leg back and sink down until your rear knee almost touches the ground and then use your muscles to push yourself back up to standing. Again, make sure to keep a slight curve in your lower back and never let the front knee go past the toes. Ideally, your front thigh should be parallel to the floor, but if you have knee problems this might not be possible. Listen to your body.
3. Push-Ups- If you cannot do a traditional push-up (I can’t!), it is fine to either do them on your knees or against a wall. If push-ups bother your wrists, you can try doing them on your knuckles or holding onto a bar.
All of these exercises use multiple muscle groups so you get more bang for your buck. If you do three sets of 15 repetitions of each exercise every day, you will soon start to see results. Also keep in mind that weight loss is about 80% diet and 20% exercise. If you are exercising and not losing weight, it is time to look at what you are eating. More on that later…