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The Role of Exercise in Weight Loss

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The Role of Exercise in Weight Loss

When you're trying to lose weight, exercise shouldn't be your only tactic. But when paired with a healthy diet and positive lifestyle choices, exercise can be a major factor in losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight for the long-term. Cooper Fitness Center Professional Fitness Trainers Angela Horner and Tonya Gutch explain the role of exercise relative to weight loss and how one should get started with a personalized exercise program designed for success.

Exercise helps increase and maintain lean body mass, increases heart rate, burns calories and creates heat production, all of which contribute to increased metabolism and weight loss. “An individual’s needs should dictate his or her exercise routine,” explains Horner. “Each person needs to begin at his or her own fitness level. It’s all about taking that individual from where they are to where they want to be.”

Where to Begin

Everyone interested in starting an exercise program should check with his or her doctor to determine if they are healthy enough to participate in an exercise program, especially if they have never exercised before.

It’s also important to work with a trained fitness professional to put together a safe exercise program, as a professional will take into consideration specific health issues or injuries. “An educated personal trainer will have the expertise to navigate through any issues you may be facing, allowing you to have a safe and productive exercise program that will help you achieve your goals,” explains Horner. Gutch adds, "a fitness professional will set the safe, effective and healthy blueprint to weight loss, and adjust it as your fitness improves. Your program should be constantly changing because our bodies are constantly changing."

"Weight loss is a challenge for everyone, no matter if they're trying to lose a little or a lot," says Gutch. "It takes discipline and willpower, and having a support system and a plan in place is key." 

Cardio and Strength Training

Aerobic activity, if done vigorously, raises the heart rate, burns calories and increases metabolism. By increasing your heart rate on a daily basis, you increase calorie burn for the time you are exercising and also receive an “afterburn” effect, in which calories continue to burn after exercise and can last up to four hours following the conclusion of physical activity. There is no "best" cardio for weight loss. "Whatever you like to do and whatever fits your lifestyle and motivates you to exercise is the best choice," says Gutch. 

According to Gutch, many people believe cardio training is the only way to lose weight. "You need weight training as well," she says. "Strength training builds and maintains muscle mass, which pumps up metabolism." Plus, “the more muscle mass you maintain, the more calories your body burns during all activities," adds Horner.

If you lose weight by only reducing your calories, you will lose muscle as well as fat. However, by combining calorie reduction with cardio and strength training, you will lose fat and maintain lean body tissue, which produces a leaner body. 

Obstacles to Success

Many people think exercise can reverse the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle. For example, a person may overindulge in junk food and think the problem can be reversed with an extra 20 minutes on the treadmill. “Exercise is only one part of the whole picture of weight loss, which includes the right combination of nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress management,” says Horner.

Additionally, mental barriers can become roadblocks to successful weight loss. “In my experience, the biggest mental barrier I see is a lack of confidence that stems from a lack of knowledge about fitness,” explains Horner. “However, when the client is educated and given a specific plan, the confidence grows and the individual becomes more and more successful.” 

For more information about professional fitness training at Cooper Fitness Center, visit or call 972.233.4832.

Article provided by Cooper Aerobics Marketing and Communications