Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Why You Shouldn't Exercise Hard To Lose Weight

People seek ways to lose weight for a number of reasons. They could be healthy but they weigh more than the ideal indication. Their intentions are to prevent from getting into health problems that can be caused by over-weight. Or, they have no other choice because they have already developed complications such as diabetes or heart disease as a result of the extra weight they have.

“If we exercise hard enough, we can lose weight faster.” This is the impression that most people will have. But, in reality, exercising intensely may not necessarily be effective in losing weight.

It is believed that if our heart rate is kept at 60 to 70 percent of its maximum rate during exercise, we will be converting relatively more fat than carbohydrates into energy. However, if we exercise with a heart rate more than 70 percent of the maximum, more carbohydrates rather than fat will be burnt. Although our cardiovascular fitness will be higher than someone exercising at a slower heart rate, we will be burning less fat and thus losing less weight. As a rule of thumb, your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age.

Although the proportion of fat burnt at higher exercise intensities is less relative to carbohydrates, the absolute amount of fat that is burnt is still higher than the amount of fat burnt at lower intensities, since the overall rate of energy expenditure is higher. Hence, you will burn actually fat at a substantial rate if you exercise at high heart rates.

Besides intensity, duration will also determine whether the exercise is effective. If you are able to exercise at a high heart rate for a long time, you will utilize a lot of fat. This does not mean that high-intensity exercise is advisable for those desperate to lose that flab. Most people are unable to exercise intensely for a long period of time.

The key is then to strike a balance between intensity and duration. It is recommended to exercise at a level where calories can be burnt at a substantial rate. For most people, this balance is achieved at an intensity of 70 percent of the maximum heart rate – the ideal pace for burning a good proportion of fat.

Your total expenditure will not be high if you push yourself to 95 percent of your maximum heart rate, then stop 5 minutes later due to fatigue. But this should not be taken as an excuse to slack off on your exercise regime. Exercising too lightly can cause you to pack on those pounds.

To lose weight, we need to incur an energy deficit, forcing the body to remove and burn body fat to make up for the deficit. This deficit should be substantial, because if it is small, the body can compensate by lowering the metabolic rate to conserve energy to the extent that it does not even have to draw on the body fat.

Ng Peng Hock, www.articledashboard.com