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DEC 21, 2021

The #1 Exercise for Weight Loss

What is the best exercise to get into the shape of your life.

It’s a question that is probably second only to what diet will get me into my best shape ever!

In this post we will look at pros and cons of different sports and ultimately decide “which is the best exercise for getting in the shape of your life”

Aerobic vs Anaerobic

Before we get into the specifics let's briefly look at the difference in aerobic exercise and anaerobic.

Aerobic literally means "relating to, involving, or requiring free oxygen" . It refers to the energy oxygen levels you need to meet the energy demands of your exercise. Aerobic exercises include everything that you probably know as “cardio” such as running, swimming or cycling.

Aerobic Exercise:

Before any aerobic exercise it’s important to warm up as your body is about to face some physical stress.

Jump rope : it’s an easy exercise that you can do anywhere, not to mention that it’s an awesome way to shake up your cardio. The many benefits of jumping rope include better coordination, improved heart health and agility. And yet another big perk: it’s so much fun!

Running: Running is one of the most popular aerobic exercises. The benefits of running include improved heart health, burning fat and calories, and elevated mood, just to mention a few.

If you’re a beginner, start with running 20 minutes in a slower pace 2-3 times a week and gradually increase the duration and the intensity.

Aerobic Strength Circuits: Aerobic strength circuits are wonderful for building muscle strength and maintaining cardiovascular health. Alternate between performing exercises like lunges, pushups, dips or squats. Perform each exercise for 1 minute and then jog for 1 minute as an active rest. One exercise combined with 1 minute of jogging is considered a circuit. Take no more than 5 minutes of rest in between circuits. Cool down afterwards with some stretching.

Walking: Use an application to determine how many steps you take each day, once done, try to make sure you reach 10 000 steps/ day. 30 minutes of walking each day can reduce your risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression.

Anaerobic means “without oxygen”. That is because during anaerobic exercise your body requires immediate energy and relies on stored energy to fuel itself ( instead of oxygen as in aerobic exercise).

Anaerobic Exercise:

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training): In HIIT you alternate between short periods of high intensity workout and less intense recovery periods until it gets too hard to continue.

Sprinting: Running full speed for a short period of time

Calisthenics: A form of strength training, often performed rhythmically and with minimal equipment. Mostly entails body-weight exercises.

From the above 2 definitions the question may well be, do you enjoy doing the same thing, repeatedly for a long duration or are you the type of person who gets bored quickly and performs better with variety?

The next thing to consider is:

Group Sports or Individual

If motivation is something you need to keep on top of your routine, then perhaps you are more suited to a team sport.

Knowing someone or people are relying on you to show up and perform can be a great motivation, especially on the days you feel tired and left to your own devices would take a rest day.

Team Sports

  • Volleyball: Usually played by two teams of six players. Volleyball is an awesome social activity that teaches teamwork and communication. It strengthens the upper body, arms, shoulders, thighs, abdominals, and lower legs.
  • Football: Playing football is a great exercise that improves aerobic capacity, cardiovascular health, and lowers body fat. All while making friends and having fun.
  • Basketball: In an hour of playing basketball you can burn up to 700 calories! If you are competitive and enjoy being part of a team, basketball is for you. It’s a great sport for improving motor coordination, flexibility, and endurance.

If however, the thought of both a team sport and relying on other people for the outcome isn’t something that you are drawn to, perhaps an individual event or an exercise that requires nothing more than 1 or more pieces of equipment is what you are looking for.

Some Great Individual Exercises:

  • Running: Running regularly helps to maintain a healthy weight, build strong bones and improve cardiovascular fitness. Running can give you a longer life, improved sleep and better mood.
  • Cycling: If you enjoy nature and biking around all while improving your cardiovascular health, cycling is for you. If you’re an outdoorsy person, cycling in nature could be a great option to incorporate in your workout plan.
  • Swimming: Swimming is an excellent way to work out your whole body. An hour of swimming burns almost as many calories as running, with much less impact on your bones.

Consider the Time and Your Availability

It's no good finding the best exercise and realising you cannot fit it around your schedule.

Before signing yourself up for disappointment, take a moment to consider your schedule…..

Tips for Staying the Course

  • Accountability: Hold yourself accountable for showing up. Plan the date and time for your workouts and show up. When you’re there, make sure you give your workout your best effort ( no cheating! ).
  • Prefer a fixed or non fixed schedule: For most people it’s easier to be on a fixed schedule when it comes to sports. Figure out when your workouts would fit best in your schedule.

Do you like going to the gym in the morning or in the evening Can you do it mid-day?

For some people it’s easier to have a set time and follow the same routine every day. If you’re the type of person who thrives more on a flexible schedule, just decide on your weekly workout goals and then you can go with the flow as long as you hit your weekly targets.

Use goal setting to focus your attention on your targets and keep yourself motivated. Knowing your goals gives you direction both short and long term, and the push you need when you hit your smaller targets. Setting and hitting goals will give you confidence and motivation to work hard.

Alright. Let’s get into it.

First off let's take a look at the calories burnt in 20 minutes for a given exercise:

  • Running / jogging 150 calories
  • Skipping 290 calories
  • CrossFit 300 calories
  • Weight training 100 calories
  • Football 180 calories
  • Basketball 114 calories
  • Skating 235 calories
  • Surfing 100 calories
  • HiiT 260 calories
  • Rock Climbing 117 calories
  • Cycling 140 calories
  • Yoga / Pilates 80 calories
  • Calisthenics 90 calories

Naturally the above is a VERY small list of the exercises available, and the intensity each is performed will naturally affect the calories you burn.

It's Not About The Calories!

Ultimately you could expand the list above and find the most aggressive calorie burning exercise and just do that.

However! If it does not:

  1. Excite you
  2. Fit around your schedule
  3. Make you want to push yourself
  4. Feel fun

Then no matter what you do, ultimately you will not continue.

And therefore the best exercise to get into the best shape of your life is...

  • One that you enjoy.
  • One you'll Want to go back to
  • Fits into your lifestyle
  • Ultimately will become a natural part of your everyday life.

Accountability Workout Apps

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A health and wellness app that helps you train and eat like YouTube fitness influencer Cassey Ho

Download Blogilates


A meal, exercise and physique tracking system that helps you stay on top of your health and fitness goals one day at a time

Download MyFitnessPal

An app that lets you visually track your workout streaks

Download Streaks


An app that helps you earn money for the charity of your choice for every mile you walk, run, or bike

Download Charity Miles


Mike Thurston Fitness App



MattDoesFitness workout App


Free fitness App


Workout from home



Make sure to check out the beginners guide to nutrition.

Losing weight is a slow process. It requires discipline, accountability and many people lose patience before they lose weight.

Finding the type of exercise that’s right for you can keep you motivated along the way.

Keep in mind that for successful weight loss, you need to make sustainable lifestyle changes including healthy food choices and getting plenty of exercise every week.

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Written by Matthew Stogdon

Matt has been writing for two decades, across print and digital media. He is also an accomplished filmmaker, with several accolades under his belt.

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