Best Exercises For Weight Loss

I recently received a question asking about the best exercises for weight loss. 


This is a fantastic question! 


I am so glad this gentleman asked it because he, along with many people, think there must be a very specific exercise or collection of exercises that will drop the most pounds.


This belief is false. There is no single exercise or exercise program that will immediately cause the most dramatic weight loss.


What? Are you serious? What about all those claims from fitness gurus that their programs are the best, will cause the most extreme weight loss, or work the fastest?


Are they lying?


Absolutely NOT!


They are NOT lying because these programs work. These programs do help people lose weight but it is almost impossible to say which program works the best and the fastest because exercise alone will not help decrease weight unless it is combined with other healthy habits.




The answer to weight loss is NOT just exercise.


Weight loss happens when you burn more calories than you take in.


That means that you could do any exercise program that is advertised and never lose weight if you are still eating more calories than the amount of calories you burn.


If an elite marathoner burns 2,600  calories running a marathon (about 100 calories burned per mile), and then consumes 2,600 calories of pizza and ice cream, the marathoner will not lose weight. In fact, if they eat a meal of 3,000 calories of salad, breadsticks, pizza, and ice cream then they might actually gain weight!


I use this example because for some people a meal consisting of 3,000 calories is a common occurrence, especially if they drink soda with that pizza dinner or fast food lunch.


So, do you see how a person who purchases an online exercise program for weight loss or attends the local gym every day may not lose weight even if they are increasing how many calories they are burning?


If they don’t adjust their food intake or if they justify increasing their food intake because they exercised that day, they won’t lose weight and may become frustrated when they actually gain weight! They’ll say something like, “I don’t understand why I’m not losing weight. I’m exercising more but I just can’t drop the weight.”


Increasing exercise  PLUS decreasing food intake = weight loss.


You can’t exercise then eat whatever you want and expect to get the results you are looking for.


I don’t want to leave our discussion without answering the question about which exercises are best for weight loss though. So, here it is:


The best exercise for weight loss is the exercise or exercise program that you enjoy and can stick with.


I know this sounds simplistic but if you don’t like an exercise program, you won’t do it.

If it’s not fun, then you won’t be consistent long enough to see results.


Here are few exercise options that you might find fun AND they burn the most calories:

  1. Running - Running burns the most calories per hour; however, it is definitely not for everyone. People who are obese, have osteoarthritis, or have rheumatoid arthritis might need to consider low impact sports or physical activity to avoid increasing stress and strain on their joints.
  2. Cycling - Riding your bike or taking a spinning class burns a lot of calories and doesn’t place stress on your joints like running; it’s a great alternative to running plus you can travel farther in the same amount of time as you would running.
  3. Circuit Training or HIIT Workouts - These exercise programs may burn as many calories as cycling/spinning. They offer a lot of variety to prevent boredom and the participant can adjust the intensity of the workout by using body weight, resistance bands, or dumbbells. This is a great way to work-out because it incorporates both cardiovascular activity and resistance training.
  4. Swimming - This is a great cardiovascular workout and easy on the joints. Swimming laps works upper body, lower body, and core plus helps your lungs and heart become more efficient.


These are 4 of the best exercises to do for weight loss because they burn the most calories but if you don’t like any of these options, find something you do like.

And, stick with it!


Exercise should be fun. It should feel like when you were a little kid who finally got to play at recess after sitting for hours!


Regardless of the exercise you do, if you are trying to lose weight, then you must watch how many calories you put into your body just as carefully as the amount of calories you are trying to burn out of your body.


Remember these simple equations:

  1. Weight Management or Maintenance: Calories out = Calories in
  2. Weight Loss: Calories out > Calories in
  3. Weight Gain: Calories out < Calories in 


Happy Exercising!

Dr. Jeanette



If you are struggling with weight loss or reaching your ideal body weight, Dr. Jeanette De Witt is not only a Doctor of Physical Therapy. She is also a Certified Athletic Trainer, Certified Personal Trainer, and a Fitness Nutrition Specialist. She offers specific customized exercise plans for people trying to get fit and be healthy. Learn more at or book a free Discovery Visit with her at


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