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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends exercising a minimum of 30 minutes per day, five times per week, at a moderate aerobic intensity to maintain health. You have to exceed this recommendation to lose weight, suggests a 2005 study published in the "Journal of Applied Physiology." Daily participation in 60 to 90 minutes of moderate-intensity, cardiovascular exercise can help you drop pounds and keep them off.
Although weight loss can be a complex process, it usually occurs when you consume fewer calories than you burn. While you can lose weight by trimming calories significantly and foregoing exercise, you're more likely to be successful if you combine increased physical activity and a low-calorie diet reveals evidence from the National Weight Control Registry, a group of more than 10,000 people who have successfully kept off an average of 30 pounds for more than a year. Exercise helps you burn calories so you can create a calorie deficit without severe calorie deprivation. Taking in too few calories can lead to nutritional deficiencies, low energy and lack of adherence to a weight loss plan. Exercise also builds physical fitness, which contributes to overall health and feelings of wellness. The American College of Sports Medicine says that at least 250 minutes of cardio per week can yield statistically significant weight loss, while doing even more can help you maintain that weight loss.
Types of Exercise
Moderate-intensity cardio exercise, such as brisk walking or cycling on a relatively flat route, is appropriate if you sustain a 90-minute session aimed at weight loss. This intensity gets your heart beating faster, but is still easy enough that you can speak a complete sentence. Other examples of moderate-intensity cardio that you can sustain for 90 minutes are doubles tennis, water aerobics or heavy-duty gardening.
If you've never exercised before or are coming back from a long hiatus, build up to a 90-minute-daily goal gradually. Starting with such a substantial block of exercise time can be overwhelming to your mind and body. A quick ramp-up in exercise duration can also lead to injury when your body is not accustomed to it. Start with as much as you can muster in a day -- 10 to 20 minutes might be sufficient at first. Every couple of weeks, add another five to 10 minutes to each workout session until you reach a regular 60- to 90-minute per day routine. You might need months to achieve a 90-minute-per-day habit.
Committing to 90 minutes per day of cardio to lose weight is admirable, but not without risk. If you work hard each day and fail to take at least one day of rest weekly, you may be vulnerable to injury. A rest day may consist of very light activity or no formal exercise at all. When you don't provide your body with rest, you can experience cumulative fatigue that will negatively affect your performance. If your need to exercise starts to interfere with your daily life or makes you agitated or irritated, you may be overtraining. Other signs of overtraining include frequent illness, constant soreness or injury, restless sleep and a chronically high heart rate. If you notice these symptoms, back off your exercise duration or take a few days off altogether. You might experience a slow-down in reaching your weight loss goals, but your body will thank you in the long run.