Although you do want to increase your walking over time, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be working your way up to a more intensive form of cardio like swimming or running. “Moving on to new exercises is not something someone should feel they have to do unless their goals change and a new exercise is needed to support those goals,” says Gagliardi. “Walking alone can be progressed by changing the distance, speed, terrain, and by adding intervals.”
For decades, conventional wisdom (and Jane Fonda) said cardio was the best exercise for weight loss. Then strength training muscled its way into the spotlight as the must-do move for revving your metabolism and losing weight in your sleep, prompting many exercise enthusiasts to join #TeamNoCardio. So a few years ago, Duke University researchers took to the lab and conducted the largest study of its kind to compare the two and get an answer once and for all.
1. Your food choices—how you fuel your body—are even more important than your workout choices. I covered this above, but it's worth reiterating: Healthy eating habits are even more important than your exercise routine if your goal is to see lasting changes in your body composition. Here are 27 tips from registered dietitians on how to eat healthier this year.
While many people turn to artificial sweeteners in a misguided attempt to whittle their waistlines, those fake sugars are likely to have the opposite effect. According to researchers at Yale, artificial sweeteners are actually linked with an increased risk of abdominal obesity and weight gain, possibly because they can trigger cravings for the real stuff and spike insulin levels in a similar fashion to real sugar.
Many of our best-rated weight loss programs have tracking software available online, as well as mobile apps, or even paper-tracking programs for those who prefer hard-copy journaling. Other programs or diets may not have dedicated websites, but there are a wealth of free calorie and activity tracking websites that offer community support, recipes and even free exercise videos.
For example, you might not realize just how much you eat when you go out to happy hour with friends. But if you take the split second to take a step back and make yourself aware of that fact, you’re more able to make a healthy decision. “The awareness and then planning and coming up with strategies for what else I can be doing—that might give me the same benefit of eating those comfort foods that make me feel better,” says Gagliardi.
Pace around your office while talking on the phone or run into the bank to cash your check instead of using the drive-thru. When researchers at the Mayo Clinic fed a group of volunteers an extra 1,000 calories a day over the course of eight weeks, they found sedentary individuals gained eight times more weight than those who fidgeted a lot during the day.
The best way to burn fat with sprinting: If you’re outside on a track, try sprinting a lap and then jog a lap. Keep repeating this for as long as you can. If you’re on a treadmill, do an all-out sprint for 20-30 seconds, then slow the belt down and jog for a minute or so before repeating. At a stadium or flights of stairs? Run up to the top as fast as you can, then jog or walk down. “It’s never a good idea to run down stairs or bleachers, so use the downward portion for your active rest periods,” says Adams. “Really lift those knees high to get your glutes some great action and build sprinter power in no time.”
Lose fat with high-intensity interval training (HIIT). If you're trying to lose weight fast, HIIT training can super-charge your metabolism for upwards of 24 hours after exercising. This means your body will continue burning calories long after you've ended your workout. HIIT burns more calories in less time than steady-state cardio. In one study, researchers looked at two groups, one running for 30 to 60 minutes three times per week, the other doing four to six 30-second treadmill sprints, resting for four to six minutes between each sprint. After six weeks, it was found that the group doing HIIT training lost more weight.