If you’ve read anything about losing weight over the past few decades (and odds are, if you’re reading this article, you have), then you’ve probably come across the conventional wisdom that cardio is necessary for burning calories and revving up your weight loss. One of the most popular forms of cardio is running; the treadmills at the gym are always packed, boutique fitness classes such as Orange theory Fitness and Barry’s Boot camp have popularized running intervals, and half-marathons are more popular than ever.
But as much as running has been hyped for weight loss, it’s certainly not the only activity you need to do to shed fat and get in shape. “Effective weight loss involves both cardio and resistance training,” registered dietitian and ACSM-certified personal trainer Jim White, owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios, told POPSUGAR.
How to Exercise for Weight Loss
So while running is a great form of cardio, it’s not the only type of cardio activity that will help you meet your goals. “Cardio would be the activities that get your heart rate up, such as walking, swimming, biking, elliptical, and jumping rope,” White said. So as long as an activity gets your heart rate up, ideally 50 to 85 percent of your max heart rate, which is 220 bpm, it counts as a good cardio workout.
But it’s not just cardio that will help you lose weight; strength training is important, too. White explained that resistance training is body weight training, lifting weights, using weight machines, or moves you would do in a fitness class, like squats. “Resistance training builds endurance and muscle,” he explained. “Since muscle is the engine that burns calories when you are resting, your body can still continue to burn calories for hours after strength training.”