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You Should Exercise This Much to Lose Weight, Says New Study

Researchers have pinpointed the exact number of calories you need to burn every week to shed pounds.

Countless diets will tell you that you don't have to exercise to lose weight. Take it from me: That's one of the biggest red flags you shouldn't partake in that diet. After all, if you want to shed pounds and keep them off, it's important that you not only alter your diet but that you also instill healthier habits into your lifestyle that you can sustain over time. A go-to routine that you love—which you can modify over time to keep your body adapting—is one of the surest ways to shut off your body's fat genes and transform your physique for the long haul.

But the question always remains: How much should you exercise to lose weight? Do you just need short bursts of rapid-fire HIIT workouts? Or do you need something bigger, longer, and more involved? According to a fascinating new study published just last month in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers may have answers.

The researchers say that an abundant amount of exercise is associated with weight loss: You should be burning roughly 3,000 calories per week. According to the study, that amounts to roughly 300 minutes every week—or six days-per-week for an hour-per-day.

The study relied on a group of 44 obese adults with a wide age gap—between 18 years-old to 49 years-old—who were recruited by researchers at the University of Kentucky and who embarked on a 12-week exercise program. The study participants were broken down into groups that exercised six days-per-week, two days-per-week, and those who didn't exercise at all. The "exercise" was comprised of whatever the participants chose: some could run, some could lift weights, some could simply walk. At the end of the study, those in the first group simply burned more calories and lost more body fat.

Most notably, those who exercised the most experienced profound changes in their levels of leptin, your body's all-important hormone that signals that you're not hungry. "Leptin is an important factor in successful weight loss through exercise," the researchers conclude.

Now, we've long known is that hardcore exercise combined with dieting can indeed backfire if you're not careful. If you work out hard, it's a good chance you'll be famished afterward, and you'll be so hungry that you'll quickly eat back the calories you've just burned. This new study offers an interesting qualifying take: Yes, we do eat more if we exercise, but only up to a threshold of roughly 1,000 calories per week more. Assuming you've got the determination to burn that many more calories through exercise, you'll indeed lose weight.

For a handful of great exercises that you can try immediately, consider these great bodyweight workouts below that you can do in or outside your home, which are presented in ascending order of difficulty. But remember: One of the best ways to lose weight is to start lifting weights—if you build more muscle, you'll be growing your body's fat-burning apparatus so that it can actually burn your fuel far more efficiently. So when you've mastered these bodyweight routines, consider taking on resistance training. And for more great weight loss advice, make sure you're aware of the 200 Greatest Weight Loss Tips Ever!

Your morning metabolism booster

Profile view of concentrated and serious young woman standing in plank pose on fitness mat, training at home
  • Jumping jacks: 30 seconds
  • Plank: Get into the push-up position and then bend your elbows so that your forearms lie flat on the floor. Brace your abs and hold the position. 30 seconds
  • Sumo Squat: Stand with your feet outside should width and turn your toes out 45 degrees. Raise your arms up for balance as you squat down. Push your knees out on the descent and drive your heels into the floor as you come up. 30 seconds

Repeat 3 times.

The do-anywhere bodyweight workout

doing a plank in the kitchen
Courtesy of Kelsey Crismon Morgan
  • Prisoner squat: Place your hands behind your head, interlacing your fingers. Stand with your feet should-width apart and your toes slightly out. Squat as low as you can.
  • Seal Jump: Perform a jumping jack, but when you jump your legs back in, clap your hands together in front of you.
  • Push-ups
  • Lateral jumps: Jump to your right side and land on your right foot. Rebound off your right foot and jump back to your left to begin the next rep.

Set a timer for ten minutes and do as many circuits as you can at an easy pace.

The sprinting workout

man running on a treadmill at home

Perform eight to 10 sprints of 20-40 yards. Run at slightly less than your absolute top speed for safety. If you're new to sprinting, do your sprints on a hill. Land on the balls of your feet while you sprint—not your heels.

The hardcore 4-minute workout


Perform burpees for 20 seconds. Don't count the reps—do as many as you can. Afterward, rest for 20 seconds, and then repeat for four minutes. As your fitness grows, extend the workout for longer. And if you're ready to drop pounds ASAP, don't miss The Simple Ways to Start Losing Weight Immediately, According to Science.

Use the treadmill

Woman running on treadmill
Now that the cold weather has begun, don't be afraid to hop on that treadmill to get in your daily cardio. According to a Harvard study, exercising on the treadmill is the most efficient method of burning calories, so even 20 to 30 minutes a day can be essential to helping you lose weight.
David Zinczenko
Dave is a globally recognized expert in health, fitness, nutrition, and weight loss and is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of 25 books in 15 languages. Read more about David