7 Exercise Tips That Make Weight Loss Easier

Family hiking in woods
Hero Images / Getty Images

Have you set a goal to lose weight? If so, you might be ready to start a diet and exercise program for weight loss. After all, that's what weight loss experts recommend, right?

Not necessarily. In some cases, starting a diet and exercise program at the same time can set you up for failure. Instead of trying to change everything all at once, try easing into a weight loss plan one step at a time. Follow these tips to set up a smarter weight loss program that works for you. Taking a sustainable and methodical approach can yield weight loss results that last.

When Should You Start Exercising?

When you first start a diet, it's not always necessary to exercise at the very beginning, especially if you are cutting far more calories than you used to. Reducing calories can cause fatigue when you first change your diet. While you could try natural methods to boost your energy, you may find that you are still too tired to exercise.​

Focus all of your attention on the diet component instead. While both diet and exercise matter when you want to lose weight, the nutrition aspect is crucial during the early stages. If you put all of your energy into following a healthy, calorie-controlled diet at the start of your weight loss program, you set yourself up for long-term success.

As you start to lose weight at a steady rate of about 1–2 pounds per week, the results will only motivate you to add the challenge of exercise in the weeks to come. Focus on healthy eating at the beginning of your diet, and then start exercising once you've adjusted to the calorie reduction.

Why Non-Exercise Activity Matters

While you should ease into exercise, you don't want to get lazy, either. Stay busy with NEAT, otherwise known as non-exercise activity thermogenesis.

NEAT is all the physical activity you do throughout the day that isn't vigorous enough to count as exercise. You can walk the dog, take the stairs to your office, carry groceries home from the store, or take a short walk during your coffee break to burn calories through non-exercise activity.

One easy way to measure NEAT is to count your daily steps with a pedometer or activity monitor. Start by trying to reach 10,000 steps per day. Then increase your goal to 15,000 or even 20,000 as you build endurance.

What Type of Workout Is Best?

Once your energy levels have adjusted to your new diet and you've learned to maximize NEAT, it's time to add an exercise program. A consistent workout regimen will help you burn more calories, speed up the weight loss process, and improve heart health.

It's a good idea to start out with moderate exercise and save the high-intensity workouts for later down the road. Even moderate-level exercise provides important weight loss benefits, such as the following.

  • Confidence boost: Regular exercise can benefit your mental health by improving your mood, relieving stress, and boosting self-esteem.
  • Injury prevention: An exercise program that suits your current level of fitness will prepare your muscles for more vigorous exercise, which also helps to prevent injury.
  • Sustainability: When you gradually build on an exercise program you establish a regular workout habit that you'll stick to for life.

Ease into exercise with easier workouts that gradually increase in intensity over time. Save the high-intensity workouts for later, once you've increased your level of fitness.

Skip the Trendy Workouts

The best workouts for weight loss are the ones that you do consistently. Skip the high-priced, trendy workout fads and do whatever forms of exercise are most convenient for you, as long as you do them on a regular basis. It's helpful to choose activities that you truly enjoy to help make exercise feel more like part of your lifestyle rather than a chore.

If weight loss is your goal, consistency matters more than exercise type or intensity. You should aim for regular workouts five to six days a week to see results. Remember that it's important to rest one day a week to allow your muscles to recover and rebuild.

Of course, there are workouts that burn more fat. You'll find that high-intensity workouts provide some of the best fat-burning benefits both during and after exercise.

But high-intensity workouts only provide noticeable benefits when you do them on a regular basis. If you do choose to follow fitness trends like spinning, bootcamp, or P90X-style workouts, be sure to rest the following day.

Vary Your Workouts for Better Results

Variety is the spice of life—even when it comes to exercise. If you start to feel like your workout routine is falling into a rut and you're not getting the weight loss results that you want, it's time to mix things up and try something else.

It's best to avoid doing the same workout day after day. Instead, focus on different workouts throughout the week, such as aerobic exercise three days a week and strength training two days a week. You might save another day for flexibility training to round out your schedule. While you want to try to do workouts that you enjoy, you might also need to step our of your comfort zone at times to shake things up. Try different styles of workouts to help you stay engaged.

If you like to run, give spinning a try. If you're into yoga, try Pilates. If you usually lift weights or walk, learn how to do a circuit workout. You'll find that when you change up your workouts, you also start to change your body.

How to Boost Your Metabolism

Weight loss and fitness experts often recommend cardiovascular or aerobic exercise to burn calories. Spinning is an aerobic workout, brisk walking can be an aerobic workout, and stair climbing machines provide an aerobic workout. But building muscle matters, too.

Strong muscles burn more calories throughout the day, which boosts your metabolism. Just remember that you don't need to go to the weight room to build strength. In fact, some of the most effective strength training exercises use bodyweight only.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends strength training at least 2-3 days per week and at least 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity. For weight loss and weight maintenance, some experts recommend even more—at least 250 minutes of exercise per week.

A Word From Verywell

Your diet and nutrition should be the focus of your weight loss program in the early stages, but exercise matters more for long-term weight maintenance. By committing to an exercise program that you can gradually build on, you can slowly increase your exercise minutes each week to meet your goals.

Remember, exercise is important for weight loss, but it's also important for longevity and healthy aging. If you stay active as you age, you'll stay fit and healthy, too. Follow a balanced diet and establish a regular workout habit that you can stick to for life to stay active, healthy, and strong.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Westerterp KR. Exercise, energy balance and body compositionEur J Clin Nutr. 2018;72(9):1246-1250. doi:10.1038/s41430-018-0180-4

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What is healthy weight loss? Updated Aug 17, 2020.

  3. Doucet É, McInis K, Mahmoodianfard S. Compensation in response to energy deficits induced by exercise or diet: Weight loss and compensationObesity Reviews. 2018;19:36-46. doi:10.1111/obr.12783

  4. Villablanca PA, Alegria JR, Mookadam F, Holmes DR, Wright RS, Levine JA. Nonexercise activity thermogenesis in obesity managementMayo Clin Proc. 2015;90(4):509-519. doi:10.1016/j.mayocp.2015.02.001

  5. Biddle S. Physical activity and mental health: evidence is growingWorld Psychiatry. 2016;15(2):176-177. doi:10.1002/wps.20331

  6. Yang YJ. An overview of current physical activity recommendations in primary careKorean J Fam Med. 2019;40(3):135-142. doi:10.4082/kjfm.19.0038

  7. Dupuy O, Douzi W, Theurot D, Bosquet L, Dugué B. An evidence-based approach for choosing post-exercise recovery techniques to reduce markers of muscle damage, soreness, fatigue, and inflammation: a systematic review with meta-analysisFront Physiol. 2018;9:403. doi:10.3389/fphys.2018.00403

  8. Martins FM, de Paula Souza A, Nunes PRP, et al. High-intensity body weight training is comparable to combined training in changes in muscle mass, physical performance, inflammatory markers and metabolic health in postmenopausal women at high risk for type 2 diabetes mellitus: A randomized controlled clinical trialExp Gerontol. 2018;107:108-115. doi:10.1016/j.exger.2018.02.016

  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How much physical activity do adults need? Updated October 7, 2020.

  10. Donnelly JE. Appropriate physical activity intervention strategies for weight loss and prevention of weight regain for adultsMedicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2009;41(7):1532. doi:10.1249/mss.0b013e3181ae46a1

  11. Reiner M, Niermann C, Jekauc D, Woll A. Long-term health benefits of physical activity--a systematic review of longitudinal studiesBMC Public Health. 2013;13:813. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-813