6 of the best exercises for weight loss

Almost 30 million people in the UK exercise every week, according to Sport England’s latest Active Lives study.1

How people choose to do that exercise, differs from one person to the next, mainly because there are so many different forms of exercise activities out there. Running, cycling, playing tennis, swimming, the list is long and varied, with people preferring some activities over others (and some people seeing better results from some activities over others…)

For instance, the Sport England research found that weights, interval and gym sessions have risen in popularity among women, while running and weight and gym sessions are favoured among older people.

Why exercise?

Most of us have heard about the benefits of exercising. The beauty of it is, it’s something we can all take part in, young or old, and it’s something that can help us on so many different levels, particularly when it comes to our health.

Regular exercise can:

    • Make you feel happier – by releasing those feel-good hormones, serotonin and norepinephrine
    • Help you lose weight – by burning off calories
    • Increase your energy levels – by pumping more oxygen around your body
    • Reduce your risk of disease a lack of regular physical activity is known to be a risk factor
    • Help your skin health – by supporting blood flow
    • Support your brain health and memory – by increasing your heart rate and getting more blood and oxygen to your brain2
  • And so much more...

How to exercise to lose weight

Not everybody can take part in a 30-minute bike ride and all burn the same calories and lose the same amount of weight.

This is because our metabolisms, the way our body is naturally programmed to burn fat cells3, are all different. Plus, there’s the fact that we all have different energy and strength levels, so won’t all pedal at the same rate for the same amount of time. But if you wanted some form of guidance on how much exercise you need to do in order to lose weight, then this may help:4
  • 3,500 calories = 1Ib.
  • 1 workout = 300 calories.
  • Therefore, you would need to do almost 12 workouts to lose 1Ib.

The NHS’ guidance on exercise levels

According to the latest guidance that was published in 2020:

Toddlers (aged one to two)

Should take part in at least 180 minutes/three hours of exercise a day.

Pre-school children (aged three to four)

Should also spend at least 180 minutes/three hours of exercise a day, one hour of which should be moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity.

Children and young people (aged five to 18)

Should take part in moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity for an average of at least 60 minutes a day across the week.

Adults (aged 19 to 64)

Should do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity, such as brisk walking or cycling, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity, such as running, or a combination of moderate, vigorous and very vigorous intensity activity.

Older adults (aged 65 and over)

Should aim to take part in 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity.

Our pick of the best exercises for weight loss

If you’ve been wondering, ‘Is swimming good for weight loss?,’ ‘Is running good for weight loss?’, ‘Is yoga good for weight loss?’, ‘Is cycling good for weight loss?’, ‘Is spinning good for weight loss?, then now’s the time to find out what is the best exercise for weight loss.

We’ve researched all of the many different forms of exercise out there and have pulled together this shortlist of weight loss exercise saviours, starting with something all of us are familiar with, walking:

    1. Walking5

How to get started: Walk to work, take the stairs instead of the lift, take the dog for extra walks (walk your friends’ or neighbours’ dogs!)

How many calories can you burn: Around 167 calories per 30 minutes at a moderate pace.

    1. Swimming6

How to get started: Space your sessions out and then make them more frequent and longer the more you get into the swing of swimming.

How many calories can you burn: A 130Ib person swimming freestyle for one hour will burn 590 calories swimming fast and 413 calories swimming at a slower rate. Meanwhile, a 205Ib person swimming freestyle for one hour will burn 931 calories swimming fast, and 651 calories swimming at a slower rate.

    1. Jogging or running7

How to get started: Aim to go for a 20 to 30 minute jog three to four times a week, and start on softer surfaces, such as grass, to make it easier on your joints.

How many calories can you burn: A 155Ib person can burn around 298 calories for every 30 minutes of jogging that they do at an average pace (5mph).

    1. Skipping8

How to get started: Start steady and build up the skips. If you get really good, you may want to swap your normal rope for a weighted skipping rope.

How many calories can you burn: Between 667 and 990 calories per hour (based on 120 skips per minute).

    1. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)9

How to get started: Start slowly by taking part in HIIT sessions twice a week. Then, once your body gets used to them, build them up to four to five workouts a week.

How many calories can you burn: Between 12 and 16 calories a minute.

    1. Kettlebell circuit10

How to get started: Start with a smaller weight and gradually build up. When it comes to swinging, start with slower swings and then increase them as your body gets used to using kettlebells and as you perfect your technique.

How many calories can you burn: Around 554 to 822 calories per one-hour session.


  1. https://www.sportengland.org/news/record-one-million-more-active-people-in-england
  2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-benefits-of-exercise#section7
  3. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-weight/metabolism-and-weight-loss/
  4. https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/exercise-lose-weight#3
  5. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/best-exercise-for-weight-loss#section1
  6. https://www.active.com/triathlon/articles/how-many-calories-does-swimming-burn#:~:text=And%20of%20course%2C%20it%20varies,and%20493%20calories%20swimming%20slower.
  7. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/best-exercise-for-weight-loss#section2
  8. https://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/a19942935/best-calorie-burning-exercises/
  9. https://www.fitnessblender.com/videos/high-intensity-interval-training-workout-20-minute-hiit-cardio-workout#:~:text=In%20the%20full%20twenty%20minutes,12%2D16%20calories%20a%20minute.
  10. https://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/a19942935/best-calorie-burning-exercises/


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