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The third problem is: How vigorous does a person need to exercise? If you go at your absolute peak, you may only last three minutes, maybe less, and that won't be effective. It is difficult to gauge how much you can push yourself to be exhausted exactly at 12 minutes.
Finally, though vigorous exercise technically takes less time, it requires changing into workout clothes, doing exercise, then taking a shower and changing back again. That means scheduling more time for preparation than for low-intensity activities, as well as having access to a place to change. On other hand, going for a brisk walk you can do on a whim, maybe more than once a day, in your regular clothes.
The Best of Both Worlds: Two Alternatives
You can get good results using either method, but best method is to combine two. If you're in gym using a stationary bike, your goal should be to do a warm-up of aerobic activity for about 20 minutes, followed by 10 minutes of anaerobic exercise. For many people, a 20 minute brisk walk followed by a 10 minute fast bicycling makes most sense. For those who play high intensity sports like racketball, a light warm up on a stationary bike for 20 minutes before a match can kick-start fat burning process. Everyone is different.
That may be too much for someone who is just starting out, though. The best recommendation is to start at a low intensity activity like walking, and gradually increasing intensity week to week. A good way to do this is to walk down street directly away from your home for 20 minutes, then turn around and walk back at a slightly quicker pace. This low-intensity 40 minute exercise every day should be fine for first week. Don't aim to run right from start, start slow, be patient, and improve consistently every day. After a week or two, turn "walk away" portion into a quick power-walk and try to jog all way back. Remember to use time, not distance, as your measuring-stick. Making your workouts shorter is NOT goal, we always want our fat-burning exercise to last 30 minutes, and our warm-up aerobics to last 20 minutes, regardless of distance.
The best fat-burning work out is difficult to program into a stationary bike, and works best on street. This is "interval training". This type of workout allows you to get benefits of high-intensity exercise and make it last over 20 minutes to burn fat right away. The formula is simple: Walk for 2 minutes, then run for 1 minute. Then repeat. Use walking portion to catch your breath and prepare for next high-intensity interval. At first, your "high intensity" may simply be a jog, don't over do it. Over weeks, increase intensity of your high-intensity portion. When you get up to a run, do NOT try to increase duration of high-intensity portion. You'll benefit more by continuing to increase pace to a sprint, if possible. Keep duration of entire work out to 30 minutes or more. As I mentioned above, with all street running, beware impact on your joints.
How regular should exercise be? Every day. Anyone can fit in one half hour into their schedule. You should look forward to physical activity, so choose one that you like to do if walking isn't for you. Remember that you're training your body to lose weight. If you don't exercise every day, your body will think that when you do exercise, it's a minor exceptional change. Only by doing it every day will your body come to expect it, and will therefore prepare for it. Training your body to expect to burn calories is half battle! If anything, take stairs instead of elevator.
David McCormick is the founder of Weightless Products. His Mr. Weightless site is devoted to free weight loss information and advice. There are no banners, no pop-ups, and you will never be asked for your email.
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