Starting Exercise For Weight Loss
When you start a new exercise program, it’s important to know what to expect. The right expectations can help you stay motivated and on track for your goals.
Many people mistakenly think that all exercise programs are the same. However, that’s not true at all.
There are many different types of exercise programs, each with different benefits and risks. Some programs require minimal equipment, while others need more specialized equipment or gym memberships. Some are designed for beginners, while others are meant for advanced athletes.
The best way to find an exercise program that works for you is to do some research first. Start by learning about the different types of exercises available and how they can help you achieve your weight loss goals. Then choose one or more types of exercise that appeal to you most and start training!
Starting Exercise For Weight Loss
Beginner Strength Training Routine for Weight Loss
Physical activity has many benefits for mental and physical health. And some people use exercise to help them meet a weight-loss goal. You can use this beginner strength training routine for weight loss, if that is a priority for you, or to build muscular strength.
This routine is based on walking, which helps build cardiovascular endurance and health, and weights, which can help boost metabolism and burn more fat. It also includes one weekly session of circuit training, which combines weights and cardio.
Although it is possible to achieve results with cardio alone, adding a strength training routine for weight loss will make your workouts more balanced and capitalize on the fat-burning benefits of weight training.
To do this program, walk on 6 days; take one day off. For the strength exercises, use dumbbells, or other weights, at home or the gym.
- Day 1: Walk for at least 40 minutes at a brisk pace or one that makes you breathe heavily, but does not make you breathless. Split the session up if it suits you, but try to keep up the intensity.
- Day 2: Choose 8 dumbbell exercises. Together, these strength training exercises work many different muscles to contribute to weight loss and building a stronger body. Do 3 sets of 12 repetitions of each exercise. If doing 8 exercises at once is too much, break it up into 4 exercises over two sessions. Also try to fit in a 30- to 40-minute brisk walk.
- Day 3: Do a circuit training workout. If necessary, modify it by slowing it down, so that you can complete at least three circuits. If you like, swap in a different circuit training routine on alternate weeks.
- Day 4: Walk for 40 minutes.
- Day 5: Repeat the dumbbell program performed on day 2; walk for 30 to 40 minutes.
- Day 6: Rest.
- Day 7: Walk for 40 minutes, or take a rest day.
This beginner strength training routine gives you three days per week of strength training (the two dumbbell programs, plus strength training in the circuit training workout), which is optimal for losing weight.
You can mix the walks up with slow jogging if you feel up to it, but at least 40 minutes of brisk walking, six days each week should be your goal. You can do this on a treadmill, in your neighborhood, or in the park.
An exercise program is an important part of a weight-loss routine, but it isn’t the only part. If your goal is to lose weight, you will need to make some other changes as well.
Get Clearance From a Healthcare Provider
Before you start a beginner weight training routine, or any exercise program, be sure you have no underlying medical conditions that mean you should be cautious about your exercise intensity or frequency. A healthcare provider can also help you set personalized goals and help you understand the right nutrition plan for you.
Extra incidental movement throughout the day, called “non-exercise activity,” can help increase the amount of exercise you get outside of your training program. Try parking your car farther from the entrance at work or while running errands.
If you live in a city, take public transportation, which usually requires more walking to get to and from your destination and the bus or train stop. Even simple things like standing on one foot while you brush your teeth can help improve your balance and stability.1
Make Weight Training Convenient
If you have a gym membership, free weights and machines are at the ready. But you can use dumbbells at the gym or at home.
Try placing dumbbells in a handy spot so that it’s easy to pump out a few dozen repetitions in between other activities or even while watching TV, videos, or listening to music.
Eat a Nutritious Diet
Diet has an important role in reducing body fat. But remember: Very low-calorie diets are not suitable, as you will shed muscle (and bone) and your metabolism will slow down, making it difficult to resume normal eating while managing weight. In addition, you’ll likely miss out on essential nutrients your body needs.
Still, to lose weight, your diet needs to restrict calories so that you lose fat, while at the same time providing you with essential nutrients and sufficient energy to fuel your exercise routine.
- Eat a high-fiber diet with healthy fats, like olive oil and avocado.
- Replace refined carbs like cookies, cakes, sweets, sugary drinks, and white bread with more nutrient-dense alternatives like whole grains, fruits, and plenty of water (if you get bored drinking plain water, try water flavorings).
- Try low-fat dairy instead of full-fat milk, yogurt, and cheeses. Consider plant-based dairy alternatives such as almond milk, soy milk, or oat milk.
- Choose whole-grain bread and cereals, and eat lots of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds.
- Select lean, low-fat meats, or vegetarian alternatives.
Lastly, eat fast foods rarely, and choose less processed whole foods when possible to minimize your intake of added sugars, excess sodium, and other additives.
A Word from Verywell
Remember to see a healthcare provider as you start to ensure a strength training routine is right for you. Then, get started as soon as possible. It’s OK if you don’t quite meet your goals for each and every day, to begin with—just aim to start each of the allocated sessions for the week.
Be determined, start slowly and consistently, and improve performance week by week. The goal should be progress, not perfection!
10 Easy Workouts for Beginners
You don’t need sweaty, hard exercise sessions to gain the benefits of physical activity. In fact, easy workouts for beginners are better choices when you’re just starting out. And you can do them at home or outdoors, whichever is better or more convenient for you.
Workouts for beginners—especially those who have failed to maintain an exercise program—are specifically designed to build confidence and create life-long habits for well-being. Beginning-level exercise can also help you lose weight and get healthy.
Health Benefits of Easy Workouts
Easy exercise sessions are the building blocks of a beginner fitness program. They will help you create habits that can lead to significant weight loss and lifelong weight management.
These 10 workouts are considered “easy” because they don’t require a lot of fancy gym equipment, their intensity can be adjusted to match your physical activity level, and some can be done from a chair or bed if you have trouble standing for long periods of time. That makes them great for beginners.
Because they are easy, does this mean that they’re not worth doing? Not at all. Engaging in any type of exercise offers immediate benefits, which include getting your brain to work better and improved mood, as well as long-term effects, such as a reduced risk of disease.1
Losing Weight With Easy Workouts
If you are completely new to exercise, low-intensity activity sessions can help you burn more calories. As long as you don’t compensate for this extra physical activity by consuming more calories, you may lose some weight.
If weight loss is your goal, combining diet with exercise can help. This might involve eating lean protein, fruit, and veggies. Watching your portion sizes is important too. But what does the research say about easy exercise and weight loss?
Studies of low-intensity exercise show that the body burns fat when study participants did easy exercise.2 Another study evaluated the effect of easy workouts on cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone that is associated with abdominal weight gain when levels inside the body stay elevated for long periods of time. Study authors found that low-intensity exercise was effective at reducing circulating cortisol levels.3
Benefits of Working Out
Easy workouts help you to:4
- Boost self-confidence
- Burn more calories and lose weight
- Decrease your stress level
- Develop strong muscles
- Establish a healthy daily habit
- Improve your sleep
While there has been quite a bit of media attention paid to high-intensity workouts, exercise remains a core component of fitness programs for many different populations. This includes people with type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or cardiovascular disease.5
Easy At-Home Workouts
Set a short-term goal to complete three workouts during your first week, then add workout days gradually until you are doing some form of activity on most days of the week.
The type of exercise you choose to do is less important than the consistency of your program. But if you are short on ideas, here are five simple workouts to get you started.
You don’t need any special gym equipment to burn calories and build stronger muscles. Take 10 to 15 minutes to try doing five incline push-ups (against a surface that allows your body to be at an incline, like a bathroom sink), five chair squats, and five walking lunges (or a set of stationary lunges holding on to a countertop for support). Repeat the sequence two to three times.
If you are not yet comfortable standing for long periods of time, grab a sturdy chair and complete 10 to 15 minutes of movement with a seated workout several times each week.
Put on some music and dance for 15 to 30 minutes. No choreography is necessary; the important thing is to move to the music.
If you want to avoid the gym, exercise at home. It’s easy to do with online workouts. Many of them are free and most offer easy workouts for beginners. Plus you can enjoy the benefit of working out in the privacy of your own living room.
If dancing isn’t your cup of tea, try shadowboxing at home. No equipment is required for this workout and it helps to decrease stress as well.
Take 10 minutes out of your day and walk up and down a flight of steps. If you don’t have a staircase available, use a step or platform.
Easy Outdoor Workouts
Exercising outside provides extra perks. There are stress-relieving benefits to breathing fresh air and enjoying your local park, pool, or nature preserve.
If your joints don’t feel good when you walk for long periods of time, try pool running, or aqua jogging. Many public pools provide the blue belt you need to keep your upper body afloat. Once you’re in the water you simply walk without letting your feet touch the bottom of the pool. No belt? Just walk in the water with your feet on the pool floor.
Dust off your bike and hop aboard. Take a leisurely spin around the neighborhood or better yet, find a continuous path that allows you to keep pedaling for 20 to 30 minutes or so without stopping for lights and traffic.
Enjoy a 30-minute walking workout and count it as your daily exercise. Walk slowly for five minutes, pick up your pace for 20 minutes, then cool down and walk slowly again for five minutes
Gardening or Yard Work
If you like to spend time in your yard, this is a great way to work your muscles and burn calories. Digging, weeding, raking, and mowing are all good sources of activity.
A Word From Verywell
Remember, when you’re a beginner, the point is simply to get moving, establish a routine, and build confidence. If you want to increase your enjoyment and boost the health benefits, add at least five minutes of easy stretch exercises at the end of your session.