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When you need to lose a few pounds in a hurry, revamp your daily activity to expend more calories. Some exercises and habits burn calories and fat more efficiently than others. Choose these exercises and watch pounds melt way. Then add those activities to your ongoing fitness routine for healthy weight maintenance.
The Alchemy of Skinny
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends moderate-intensity aerobic activity to put you in calorie-burning mode. Aim for exercise sessions of at least 10 minutes and log a total of 150 minutes a week. If you're serious about losing weight, increase that effort to half-hour aerobic workouts that add up to 300 minutes a week. Doubles tennis, water aerobics and brisk walking qualify as moderate-intensity. For more dramatic results, vigorous-intensity workouts include swimming laps, playing basketball and hill-cycling. But don't work up a voracious appetite. A pound of fat equals 3,500 calories -- that's a 500-calorie per day deficit to lose a pound each week. Skipping second helpings at lunch and dinner is a powerful weight loss exercise.
Tricks and Tips
Challenge your stability to increase the intensity of your regular workout. Adding a stability ball to exercises enhances muscle building as your body works to maintain balance, according to the National Academy of Sports Medicine. More muscle boosts metabolism and burns calories even when you are resting. Stability ball dumbbell presses engage the abdominal, arm, shoulder and chest muscles to raise and lower weights while balancing on the ball. Pikes on the stability ball build the quads, abs and obliques. Try moving around more as you go through your day. Fidgeting, jiggling, shifting weight from foot to foot, any kind of movement turns normal activity or downtime into calorie-eating exercise. Cross your legs and swing your foot under your desk or the lunch table at the office. Stand while you check-in with Facebook friends, chat on the phone or read the paper. The National Academy of Sports Medicine says that 10 minutes of standing burns 20 calories -- a weight-loss freebie.
Interval training boosts everything from sprinting speed to lean muscle mass, improves cardiovascular fitness and gets rid of excess weight. One of the most effective high-intensity interval systems is called Tabata training, after the Japanese researcher who invented a tough HIIT regimen to train speed skaters. Tabata uses eight repetitions of 20-second bursts of maximum-effort exercise followed by a 10-second recovery period. The series may be repeated numerous times consecutively for advanced training, under the guidance of a qualified coach. Adaptations of Tabata use bikes, treadmills, weight machines or body weight. A Tabata-style workout for a non-elite athlete with a weight loss goal might include 20 seconds of push-ups, recline rows, burpees and kettlebell swings, each followed by 10 seconds of recovery, with the whole routine repeated four times. Tabata works best when combined with a regular cardio and strength training program.
Safe and Sensible Slimming
Unless you are on a medically-supervised extreme diet for a health emergency, you should plan to lose a safe one to two pounds a week. The Mayo Clinic points out that dropping weight too quickly may indicate you are losing water or lean muscle and not just fat. An exhausting exercise program will be much harder to maintain in the long run and could increase your risk for injury. But kicking up the energy expended to boost weight loss will give you results. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that one minute of vigorous-intensity activity equals two minutes of moderate-intensity activity. Take up a new sport to take off a few pounds. Taekwondo will cost you 752 calories an hour if you weigh about 160 pounds. Ice skating, racquetball, rollerblading and cross-country skiing all burn around 500 calories an hour.