The best exercise to quickly shed pounds is a steady, prolonged aerobic workout like you get from jogging, swimming laps or cycling. Running about 5 mph, which is an easy jog for most people, burns nearly 600 calories an hour for a 154-pound person, and swimming an easy crawl stroke and cycling more than 10 mph burn similar amounts. If you burn 600 calories every day for a week, you would burn 4,200 calories, and, according to the Centers for Disease Control, you would lose a little more than a pound — provided you didn’t eat more than you usually do. If you exercised at that level while cutting the calories you consume, you will lose weight even faster.
Advantages of Running
You can run almost any time and anywhere. You don’t need to have snow on the ground, like you do for cross-country skiing, another great calorie-burner. If it’s raining or cold outside, you can run indoors on a treadmill. Jogging is dramatically more efficient than walking; you would have to walk for two hours at 3.5 mph to burn as many calories as you would jogging 5 mph.
Swimming a slow, easy freestyle (crawl) burns about 500 calories an hour, but if you increase the pace and blend in some other strokes — such as breaststroke or backstroke — you can burn even more. If you use your heart rate to determine if you are exercising hard enough, be aware that your pulse will be lower than when you are jogging because the water cools your body, and its weightless environment helps circulate your blood.
Cycling with Purpose
Cycling at a pace of more than 10 mph burns about 600 calories an hour for a 154-pound person. Going uphill at almost any speed will increase that amount. That’s why the Tour de France usually is won in the mountains, where the fittest cyclists can outrace other competitors. Other advantages of cycling over jogging is that there is less wear and tear of the body, and you usually can do it for a longer period, burning more calories and losing weight even faster.
About this Author
Jim Sloan is a writer and editor in Reno, Nevada. He has been a journalist for more than 25 years and is the author of two books, “Staying Fit After Fifty,” and “Nevada: True Tales from the Neon Wilderness.”