TIME 4 FAT LOSS SERIES
This is the Sixth in a series of original articles we will be publishing looking at the science behind fat loss. Join our mailing list to be informed when we have added the latest article.
PART 6 – How much physical activity do we need to do to maximise fat loss?
In short, the more physical activity you do, the greater your fat loss.
To be more specific, research shows that:
- Less than 150 minutes per week of physical activity (PA) provides minimal fat loss
- Moderate-intensity PA between 150 and 250 minutes per week will provide only modest fat loss.
- Greater amounts of PA (more than 250 per week), are associated with clinically significant fat loss (1).
How much physical activity do we need to do to maintain long-term fat loss?
To maintain long-term fat loss, the American College of Sports Medicine (2) suggest that individuals should progress to at least 250 minutes per week (2,000kcal per week or more) of moderate to vigorous physical activity.
To achieve this, you would need to be physically active 5-7 days per week.
People who have been obese and have lost weight may need to do 60–90 minutes of activity a day to avoid regaining weight (3). This could be accumulated with multiple bouts of at least 10 minutes duration throughout the day.
What type of physical activity should we do?
Aerobic type activities should be the primary mode of exercise in your fat loss programme, but you should also include resistance and flexibility training (2).
If you don’t wish to participate in structured exercise, you can perform various other forms of physical activity to expend the desired amount of energy, such as brisk walking, gardening cycling, swimming, walking a certain number of steps each day, and stair climbing, etc (3).
For example, a person weighing 100 kg who wants to burn 300-500 kcal, could either walk at a speed of 4km/hr for 60-90 minutes or dig the garden for approximately 40 minutes. You should also reduce the amount of time you spend being inactive, such as watching television, using a computer or playing video games (3).
Remember to gradually increase your physical activity to the recommended levels, taking into account your current fitness, health status and ability for the chosen activity.
In conclusion, we need to perform a considerable amount of physical activity to maximise our fat loss, but this does not need to be gym-based structured exercise. Rather, many of the activities of daily living, such as walking, cycling, and gardening can all increase our energy expenditures and so help us to achieve our fat loss goals.