What's the Best Weight Loss Exercise?

It's walking or running. These are not only the oldest form of exercise, but among the most healthful. Here are just a few of their benefits:

  • Running burns more calories in less time than almost any other continuous exercise.
  • A regular running or walking program lowers your risk of life-threatening maladies such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
  • Walking is a low-impact exercise that produces less stress on the knees and joints than many other activities do.
  • Both walking and running produce endorphins, brain chemicals that make you feel happy and confident.
  • Both are social activities—you can run or walk with a friend, your kids, or even strangers in a race.

Download DietPower and lose poundsHow Many Calories?

The energy you burn while walking or running depends on your body weight, speed, and experience. (Athletes burn less energy per mile, because they've trained their bodies to higher efficiency.) Below is a chart showing burn rates for average people on average terrain.

Calories Burned in 20 Minutes*

Activity & Speed 130 Pounds 160 Pounds 190 Pounds
Walking, 3.0 mph (20:00/mile) 63 78 92
Walking, 3.5 mph (17:09/mile) 79 97 115
Walking, 4.0 mph (15:00/mile) 96 118 140
Walking, 4.5 mph (13:20/mile) 107 132 156
Jogging, 5.0 mph (12:00/mile) 114 140 167
Jogging, 5.5 mph (10:55/mile) 122 150 178
Running, 6.0 mph (10:00/mile) 129 159 189
Running, 6.5 mph (9:14/mile) 137 169 200
Running, 7.0 mph (8:34/mile) 145 178 212
Running, 7.5 mph (8:00/mile) 152 187 222
Running, 8.0 mph (7:30/mile) 160 197 234
Running, 8.5 mph (7:04/mile) 168 207 246
Running, 9.0 mph (6:40/mile) 175 215 256
Running, 9.5 mph (6:19/mile) 183 225 267
Running, 10.0 mph (6:00/mile) 191 235 279

*Source: DietPower Weight and Nutrition Software

To Translate Calories Burned into Weight Lost...

...divide the calories you burned by 3500. The result is how much more you would have weighed (in pounds) had you not performed the exercise. Example: According to the table above, a 20-minute walk at 4.0 mph by a 190 pound person would burn 140 calories. Divided by 3500, that represents a loss of 0.04 pounds. (Sound small? Do the walk every day for a month and you lose 30 x 0.04 = 1.2 pounds. Do it for a year and you'll weigh 14.4 pounds less than if you don't walk.)

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