Skip to content

best exercise to lose weight


Everyone seems to want a magic pill to shed pounds. The reality, of course, is that a magic pill doesn’t exist, and you have to work hard at exercise and dieting to slim down. So what’s the best exercise to lose weight?


It’s not an uncommon question to be asked. People want to get the maximum return on investment, so it’s only logical to want to know what is the best exercise to lose weight.

While there really is no “best” exercise to lose weight, some modalities are better calorie-burners than others, which can help contribute to weight loss. If your goal is to drop pounds, consider the following:

  1. Jogging/Running – This torches calories big-time. If you can’t jog for 20-60 minutes, then break it up with intervals of power walking to keep yourself moving.
  2. Cross-country skiing – Of course, this can be a tough one if it’s summer or you live in an area where there is no snow in the winter. But you can try a ski machine indoors (if you can find one), or rely on this exercise whenever there is enough snow.
  3. Climbing stairs – Whether you are using a stairclimber machine or working your way through the steps at an outdoor stadium, the action of repeatedly lifting your body weight is super effective.
  4. Elliptical training – Using an elliptical works your entire body, so you use more muscles and thereby blast more calories. Make sure, however, that you’re not just coasting while you read a book or watch TV, but that you are incorporating higher intensity intervals and moving backwards, squatting and varying your pace and stride.
  5. Jumping rope – This high-impact activity burns calories quickly and can be integrated into other workouts, as it can be challenging to jump steadily for 20+ minutes without a break.

With weight-bearing exercise, you tend to burn more calories, assuming that workout intensity and duration are the same as non-weight-bearing activities such as biking and rowing. Swimming is a great workout, but it is not weight-bearing, and because the water tends to keep the heart rate down, the overall caloric expenditure can be blunted.

Yoga and Pilates also are great exercise, but tend to be limited in terms of significant caloric expenditure. Sports like tennis and golf also provide good exercise, but tend to be stop-start (in terms of tennis) and low intensity (golf), so that weight loss contributions aren’t dramatic.

All exercise is beneficial if performed correctly. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with walking, strength training or stretching. But as for the best exercise to lose weight, aim for higher intensity cardio work.