If you hit the trail or treadmill hard for an hour every day hoping to shed unwanted pounds, you might be sadly disappointed by the results. It turns out that exercising too much or too hard can come back to bite you…especially when you eat more to make up for all those burned calories.
In a new study in the American Journal of Physiology, researchers found that shorter, less intense workouts were more successful for weight loss. So if you're looking to lose some flab, keep these tips in mind as you make the necessary lifestyle changes:
- Find the exercise sweet spot. In the study, sedentary people who did 30 minutes of moderate exercise lost more weight (7 pounds over 13 weeks) than those who kicked it up a notch for 60 minutes a day (5 pounds).
- Build gradually. If you’ve been a couch potato for a while, don’t overreach. Give your body time to adapt to its new activity level. Start small,and build gradually—maybe 10 minutes for a few days, 20 minutes the next week, and so on.
- Stay active all day. The 30-minute exercisers were more active throughout the rest of the day (and burned more calories!), probably because they had higher energy levels. In addition, many studies point toward the health benefits of regular physical activity, even if it’s climbing stairs to a meeting or walking the dog.
- Strike a balance between diet and exercise. People who exercised 60 minutes in the study ate more at meals and snack time. To lose weight, you need to keep your eating under control. Being more mindful when you eat or keeping a food diary can help you avoid exercise-induced overeating.