Introduction - Which Exercises Do I Need?
In order to control the mass and percentage of body fat one maintains, along with the blood levels of fat and the cholesterol that surrounds every fat cell, exercise in important. However, exercise alone will not control fat, because a cocktail of a reasonable exercise plan, good nutrition, stress management, proper breathing, and an adequate amount of sleep nightly all go into the mix for effective fat control and good health.
No single element of the above mentioned group of vital components will work alone for very long. Uncontrolled stress and lack of asleep by themselves or in combination can directly increase fat storage, because they signal the body that it is in danger, much as if it were approaching a time of famine or a long, cold winter with scarce food supplies.
In addition to the list of interacting components mentioned above for fat control and well-being, no single exercise by itself will be effective long-term in fat control for most people. No single exercise can actually "spot reduce" the "fat" areas of one's body in a manner similar to liposuction without surgery. Fat control and reduction when necessary, require a set of different types of exercises.
How Much Fat?
Considering fat itself, fat is not bad by itself. One's body needs fat. An overabundance of fat - more than one's body can use - that is a problem. Some individuals become nearly obsessed with reducing body fat percentages to the point that their behaviors become compulsive in exercising, restricting calories (especially fats), etc.
Some people take the notion to see just how far they can reduce their body fat percentages and some of these even believe that they are better than other individuals that have higher body fat percentages.
Eating orders are another bane to good health and some begin innocently in "going on a diet", while others have strong emotional/psychological roots. The point is to not over-focus on fat reduction, especially "spot reduction", which is usually not effective.
In training children, adults, and the elderly in exercise and movement arts for some time, I have found that even stretching can be effective in fat burning. My stretching classes of an hour, twice weekly, have resulted in weight loss of one pound to one-and-a-quarter pounds per person over the course of 10 weeks. Stretching is required before and after weightlifting and aerobic workouts, but it offers the extra benefit itself of helping to burn additional fat.
Deep breathing regularly is also important, because just like wood for a fire - fat cannot burn without enough oxygen. The series of exercises i recommend for a workout that will burn fat as well as produce other good results is:
- Breathing Exercises
- Weight Training
- Aerobics for at least 12 Minutes
- Cool Down Stretching and Breathing Exercises.
Types of the Most Effective Exercise
While there are links and information about breathing exercises farther along in this presentation, I use a simple set designed to gradually increase lung capacity and the oxygen supply to the body.
Sit on a mat or the floor with legs crossed comfortably with palms of your hands on your knees.
- Close your eyes.
- Breathe in through the nose slowly to the count of 3. Exhale slowly through the mouth to the count of 3.
- Inhale through the nose slowly to the count of 5. Exhale slowly through the mouth to the count of 5.
- Inhale through the nose slowly to the count of 10. Exhale slowly through the mouth to the count of 10.
- Repeat the breathing process increasing the count by 3 or 5 each time until you eventually reach 20. Continue to train your lungs until you can reach 30. So not rush the counting, as this may take many months.
- For each session, at the longest count you can accomplish, repeat that breathing count 5 times. For example, if you can extend the count to 15, then repeat inhaling and exhaling to the count of 15, 5 more times.
- Finally, open your eyes, take one deep breath and release it with your eyes open, and rise slowly. This is useful to ensuere that one does not pass out by rising to quickly.
Exercise is physical movement that conditions a part of the human body, including the brain and the mind. Successful exercise is well planned, structured, and repetitive in nature for short-term benefits and long-term health maintenance. All exercise can burn fat to a certain extent.
Exercise improves physical and mental health, can help maintain physical and mental fitness, increase social skills, and facilitate physical and mental rehabilitation. It can prevent and treat many physical/mental illnesses such as obesity, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis, a wide range of joint and muscle problems, chronic pain, depression, anxiety, and substance/alcohol abuse. While doing so, it decreases fat storage by burning fat as fuel. Effective exercise improves health, builds physical/mental endurance, and delays the symptoms of aging (Yu, et al. 2006; Keller, 2007).
Preparation and Follow-up
Before beginning an exercise program, visit a physician for a health evaluation and exercise recommendations. A physical exam will determine whether strenuous exercise will benefit or harm you and the doctor will formulate an individualized exercise program. You may also see a personal trainer if you are using such a professional. If you have any problem or discomfort with your exercises, consult a professional.
Stretching and cool down
Stretching before exercise and cooling down after exercise are crucial. Correct stretching helps prevent soft tissue injuries. Stretching instructions are available at your physician's or personal trainer's office. Proper cool down procedures reduce the painful muscle spasms and cramping, allow the heart rate to return to normal rates, and eliminate the buildup of lactic acid from the muscles.
Strength training increases muscle strength by straining a muscle further than average, in what is known as muscle load. This increased workload stimulates muscle protein growth at the cellular level to facilitate muscle contraction. Strength training comprises exercise that increases muscle mass and strength, bone strength, and metabolism. It helps to maintain proper body weight, body image, and self-esteem (George, et al., 2004; Yu, et al., 2006; Keller, 2007; Kim and Kravitz, 2007; Sander, 2007). Exercise includes strength training via isometrics, isotonics, and isokinetics, along with range of motion (Keller, 2007; The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, 2007.)
Flexibility and Range of Motion
Range of motion exercise is movement that improves joint motion. It depends on the configuration of bone surfaces within a joint, the joint capsule, and the ligaments, muscles, and tendons that exert force on the joint. Accidental trauma, surgery, and immobilization or stiffness such as that of arthritis or paralysis can reduce the normal range of motion of a joint, sometimes drastically. Sometimes all movement is lost.
Range of motion exercise includes passive assist, active range of motion, and active assist to improve muscle strength and body flexibility. Passive assist is the movement applied to a joint entirely by another person or passive-motion exercise machine. During passive assist, the joint receiving exercise is completely relaxed and the force applied from outside the body takes an arm or leg completely through the range of movement available to the joints. The joint is not overworked or over stretched. Active range of motion is performed entirely by the person doing the exercise. In contrast, active assist is a joint receiving some help from an outside force. Active assist worked for quadriplegic actor Christopher Reeve, wherein he was given passive assist until he was able to provide part of the effort himself and moved to active assist. He was able to walk underwater in a pool with considerable help from outside force.
Isometric exercises contract the muscles, while the joints do not move. Muscle fibers maintain a constant length throughout the time and extent of contraction. An example of this is doing standing pushups against a concrete wall. The muscles of the arm are contracting but the wall is not moving because of the physical effort. Isometrics develop total strength of a muscle group or chosen muscle.
Isotonic refers to exercises that involve weight lifting as resistance training. Isotonic exercise requires joints to move during muscle contraction. As weights such as dumbbells or a barbell are lifted through the range of motion of the joints, the associated muscles shorten and lengthen.
Calisthenics are isotonic as well, involving pushups, pull-ups, chin-ups, crunches, and others that use one's own body weight as a force for resistance training. Another form of isotonic is movement used against the force of elastic or rubberized exercise bands.
Isokinetic exercise is different, because it allows a maximum muscle contraction to occur completely throughout the entire range of motion available to a joint. Isokinetics uses exercise machines to control the speed of muscle contraction. This combines the best of isometrics and weight training. An isokinetic stationary bicycle, for example, set to 60 revolutions per minute will not allow the user to pedal any faster than 60 revolutions per minute.
Exercise facilitates the conditioning or reconditioning of heart muscles and improves or prevents cardiac disease in other individuals. The dominant benefit is that muscles improve the efficiency of oxygen use to reduce the amount of blood it needs to pump.
The resultant increased fitness from cardiac conditioning reduces the workload on the heart, leading to increased endurance. Endurance exercise or aerobics like running, speed walking, bicycling, or swimming increase both the strength and efficiency of heart muscles and can burn fat more rapidly than some other exercises.
- George, Steven Z., Joel E. Bialosky, and Julie M. Fritz. Physical therapist management of a patient with acute low back pain and elevated fear-avoidance beliefs. Physical Therapy. June 2004: 538(12).
- Keller, Joy. U.S. to introduce new physical activity guidelines: IDEA members share their visions for what the recommendations should include. IDEA Fitness Journal. Jan 2007: 16(1).
- Kim, Doyeon, and Len Kravitz. Childhood obesity: prevalence, treatment and prevention: become an advocate for kids by taking a leadership role in the war on obesity. IDEA Fitness Journal. Jan 2007: 22(3).
- Sander, Ruth. Exercise is associated with a delayed onset of dementia. Nursing Older People. Jan 2007: 39(1).
- Yu, Fang, Ann M. Kolanowski, Neville E. Strumpf, and Paul J. Eslinger. Improving cognition and function through exercise intervention in Alzheimer's disease. Journal of Nursing Scholarship. Winter 2006: 358(8).
- Mayo Clinic. Rochester, MN.
- The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Department W. 200 Independence Ave., SW. Room 738-H. Washington, D.C. 20201. (202) 690-9000.
- YMCA of the USA. 101 North Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 60606. (800) 872-9622.
- YWCA USA. 1015 18th Street, NW, Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20036. (202) 467-0801.
Most Effective Fat Burning Exercises
Penn State Strength & Fitness division advises that aerobics burn fat. further, an aerobic work out should last for a minimum of 12 minutes and longer if you can manage. The warm up or cool down times are not counted in this 12 minutes. The amount of time that one's heart rate (HR) is inside one's Training Zone is the only time counted. The longer and more frequently one can do this, the quicker the fat will reduce.
Why must the aerobic workout last for 12 minutes or longer?
Twelve minutes is the minimum amount of time for the body to start producing fat-burning enzymes. This is necessary for burning fat off as energy. After the initial 12 minutes of aerobic exercise, the body begins to burn fat faster.
Most university physical education colleges are recommending a combination of aerobic exercise and weight lifting, with emphasis on the aerobics, and some physicians advise to lift weights prior to aerobics, because it can kick start the fat burning process as a catalyst for the enzymes to be secreted. Some sources advise to eat nothing before exercise and nothing for 2 hours afterward in order to prolong the fat burning, but not everyone can follow this advise. I find eating lightly before training works well and that I am not hungry afterwards for at least two hours.
Breath and Fat Burning
Safety in Reducing and Controlling Body Fat
This site contains myriad articles that can help one maintain safety and strength of the valuable knees. Articles include rules for safe squats, how women can protect their knees from injury, women's athletics, safety in all sports and exercise, and
Dr. Jonny Bowden: Fat Burning
Body Fat and Exercise
- Understanding Your Body Fat Percentage
This site explains the levels of fat found at different levels of activity for both women and men,. These include Essential Fat (needed in order to stay alive), Athletes, Fitness, Acceptable, and Obese.
- Lorenzo's Oil - A Miracle of Fats
Made into a 1992 film, the story of Lorenzo as a boy showed the danger of extremely reducing fats. His medical condition, adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), required more fat to be added to his body in the form of the special olive oil derivative found to s
- iVillage Total Health
This site offers a page titled Body Composition that explains the total makeup in separate molecular components of the human body, including body fat. It also provides pictures and diagrams, with presentations about cholesterol and diabetes.
- Ask Men
Aerobic Exercises. This page instructs the reader in regard to the proper, safe methods of combining aerobic and strength training exercises for fat burning and good health. A caution is given to avoid progressive overload in this combination in orde
- How to Be Fit
Fat burning exercises with animated photos to explain proper procedures. These include squats with dumbells, pushups, modified pushups, and leg raises. These are great for muscle definition adn toning as well.
- Mayo Clinic
Weight Lifting for Burning Fat. A physician and exercise specialist suggests lifting weights before performing aerobic exercises in order to jumpstart the body's fat burning process. The Mayo Clinic article offers links to additional related informat
- Mayo Clinic Podcast & Transcript
Weight Training for Busy People: 5 Timesaving Tips. This is a podcast with a length of 8:40 and an online transcript for easy reading. Effective tips are provioded for a 20-minute workout to be used three times a week.
- Mayo Clinic - Aerobics
Aerobic Exercise: What 30 Minutes a Day Can Do. This useful information sheet explains several ways that aeroic activity can improve overall health, including burning fat, maintainin a healthy weight, and keeping one's independence as the body ages.
© 2007 Patty Inglish MS
Comments and Experiences
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 15, 2013:
Thanks very much, SamitaJassi.
Sandra Busby from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA on March 10, 2012:
Patty, I especially enjoyed the YouTube video on the vagus nerve. My "thing" is deep breathing and it's great to hear how that helps burn fat. Thanks. Sandra Busby
MP50 on December 31, 2011:
Thank You the same to You.
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 30, 2011:
Thanks very much! 50 on exhale is indeed pretty good - Happy Healthy New Year!
MP50 on December 29, 2011:
Great Hub, I do everything you have mentioned in this Hub. Hardly surprising I am in such good shape. LOL.
Stretching and deep breathing are highly important to any athelete.
A good tip is do not bounce when stretching, just stretch and hold this will give you more strength and flexiblity.
Deep breathing exercises are a must for anyone, I do them on a daily basis and can count to 30 on inhale and 50 exhale, not bad for a dialysis patient.
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 03, 2011:
lael8 - Breathing deeply enough is vital, as I've found out from experience in exercise and periods of non-exercise.
KBEvolve - Thanks for the question. I'll answer form my education and experience in Medicine, physical fitness, and 29 years martial arts teaching - especially as adjunct therapy for muscle and join conditions that raised several from wheelchairs.
Results depend on a number of factors. What performance measurements are you referencing? Knowing that would help answer. - Stretching beforehand is vital for safety in many forms of exercise. I don't like cold stretching, having my classes jog in place or self-massage percussively to increase circulation before stretching.
I wish I could get construction workers to stretch before and after work, and to exercise in addition to work. What they do for work is movement, but not healthy exercise - I know several disabled construction workers as a result.
Kenneth Brown from United States on December 02, 2011:
This is very interesting. I've encountered similar information before but never have seen the scientific links. I am curious about something though.
You stated that stretching before and after exercise, and in some places I've read that static stretching beforehand can lessen performance. Do you know anything about where the truth lies?
lael8 from Rapid City, SD on September 01, 2011:
What a great hub! There is a wealth of information here. As psychologist, I am forever preaching the benefits of exercise for mental health and just overall clarity of mind...And most often I am preaching it to the person in the mirror! :) Thanks for the commentary on breathing. I'm a proponent of mindfulness meditation, and the biggest thing I notice with clients is that they simply do not know how to breath. They breath shallow breaths that do not adequately fill the body. Such a small thing to remedy but with big pay offs! Thanks again!
sunbeams from Cairns , Australia on July 25, 2011:
I simply loved the hub.You have put things down so clearly.I realise I am missing aerobics...
Nomason from Nigeria on April 08, 2011:
HELLO, THAT'S A GREAT ARTICLE. IT REALLY WORKS
ubalildon on February 23, 2011:
seriously i'd like to learn some more burning exercise!!!
Dale Michaels from Guangzhou, China on September 05, 2010:
Great Hub loaded with great information.
nikitha p from India on August 23, 2010:
very informative hub!
Jon Law from Birmingham UK on August 20, 2010:
Some good info here, I like.
Writermiss on August 03, 2010:
Very useful information. Not only did I learn how breathing and stretching can burn fat, I didn't realize how lack of adequate sleep contributes to fat storage. My workout usually consists of 30 mins cardio and 30 mins of strength training 3 times/week, but I've noticed less results in the past month. I haven't been sleeping more than 4-5 hours/night. And often because of lack of energy, I've had to decrease the intensity of my workouts. Thank you for "enlightening" me and sharing more options (easy and accessible) to improve my exercise and overall general health.
Salvync on July 24, 2010:
Great Hub. I didn't know breathing can help to burn fat. Interesting.
Madison Parker from California on July 04, 2010:
Great info! I'm currently vacationing in the gold country of CA, about a 2 minute drive from my sister-in-law, the gourmet cook! I will need these in a big way, (no pun intended,) by the end of the week. You put so much into this article; beautifully done.
Research Analyst on June 04, 2010:
Summer time is here and everyone is wanting to fit inside those bikini's, one piece or two?
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on June 04, 2010:
For myself, I find exercising every other day is best, except to take a brisk walk on the off days. Some people exercise different body areas each day, but still, I would recommend suspension of exercise activity one day a week so the body can rest and heal more throughly. It refreshes the mnd as well.
vigorelle from spain on June 04, 2010:
Do you use rest days when doing your training,have read this is good for muscle recovery.
Granny's House from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time on April 28, 2010:
Great hub. I exersise while I am at the computer. I do squats, jogging in place all the while with weights in my hands and on my feet. Why waste the time you spend in front of the computer. lol
bojanglesk8 on March 07, 2010:
All about losing body fat on February 07, 2010:
More than the exercises, I think your approach is what's important. I'm a big fan of circuit training, you can do most any exercises, but you need to move from one to another quickly to keep your hear rate up.
TomsFitnessGuide on January 19, 2010:
Great hub. Some solid information! ;)
AndyBaker from UK on April 01, 2009:
I really need to start doing some of these.
I was doing 45 minutes on one of those stepping machines 5 days a week but got really busy at work and stopped going.
Bellemerchant from New York on December 15, 2008:
I never used to do breathing exercises. I always thought...what's the point! I did however stretch before and after a work out. Based on the information you have given, I think breathing exercises will make a difference i my exercise routine, thanks a bunch! ;)
Lgali on December 02, 2008:
breathing exercises I do everydays helps me lot
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on September 25, 2008:
Glad you like it!
elisabethkuhn on September 25, 2008:
Excellent info. Especially loved the video on the Vagus nerve! That explains a LOT. Oh, and the various kinds of exercise you list is great too. And the Jonny Bowden interview. Thanks!
Detroit on June 06, 2008:
12-minutes of aerobic type movements was hard to maintain at first, but after several days it became easier and easier. Then adding some weight training before the aerobic part helped even more. Thanks for the tips.
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on February 06, 2008:
I wish them to work for you as well as they do for me, Peter. Plus, every day I speedwalk for 15-20 minutes and this seems to keep my metabolism in a higher gear. Thanks for your visit here!
Peter M. Lopez from Sweetwater, TX on February 06, 2008:
I am practicing your breathing exercises as I write. Thanks.
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on January 10, 2008:
I hope you find it really practical and useful, mallu and MoralsEthics1960!
MoralsEthics1960 from Florida on January 10, 2008:
Just what I need after Christmas.This covers it all thanks
mallu on January 09, 2008:
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on January 08, 2008:
You're welcome. Different exercises work best for different people, but the weight lifting before the aerobics seems pretty widespread inits good effect. Thanks for stopping by and visiting my Hubs!
Research Analyst on January 08, 2008:
I can always use some tips on burning fat. Thanks!
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 20, 2007:
I am glad you are enjoying this Hub Kemnny! Keep walking!
Ashok Rajagopalan from Chennai on December 19, 2007:
Wow! A complete hub! After going through the hub, I had a lot of fun in the comments section!
I do the brisk walking bit;
I walk about twice the speed of the average guy in my city, and that keeps me fit, I think!
Thanks for this thorough hub, Patty!
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 19, 2007:
EA, That's not me, but the woman looks like me, except I am more muscular and probably a bit shorter. Our golf courses provide cross country skiiing when there is a large snowfall that lasts a couple of days. The big storm we had a few days ago turned to slush in just 2 hours!
Hubbing is becoming art to me and I am in a zone of sorts when I do it. I wonder if I could sell you a bottle of zone? LOL
Earth Angel on December 18, 2007:
Dear Patty, you just know how to put the BEST Hubs together!! Can I hire you to spruce up mine!!?? There are just not enough hours in the day!! I LOVE this Hub!! By chance, is that you nordic skiing?? The woman in that photo is exactly how I envisioned you!! Blessings to you!! Earth Angel!!
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 18, 2007:
In that case, may we do some gene splicing? LOL
Compu-Smart from London UK on December 18, 2007:
lol @ Williams comment!
Very usefull info Patty and a great Hub..I am lucky and have genes which keep my weight stable at all times.."aplogies everyone" lol
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 18, 2007:
Hi William, sounds like you have a good plan.
I've seen golfers in Ohio using Flame-Orange colored golf balls on the courses in the snow. Looks hard to me!
William F Torpey from South Valley Stream, N.Y. on December 18, 2007:
I think I lost three pounds just jogging through this great hub! I found cardiac rehab, which included lots of cycling for me, worked great. Since my bypass, golf has helped. But, with winter weather in the offing, I need to follow your good advice.
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 18, 2007:
Brisk walking for 12 minutes would do it! Twice around a city block. :) Meerry Christmas!
Wendy Iturrizaga from France on December 18, 2007:
This is exactly what I need after Christmas... I've never been much into aerobic exercise. I do prefer Yoga or Pilates, but I suppose that to get rid of the extra "christmas weight" I should introduce some aerobic routines. Thanks for the advice!