Whenever people want to lose weight, they immediately think about doing some very intense exercise such as running, cycling or aerobics. However, just thinking about leaping around the room or pounding the pavement mile upon mile is enough to make you tired!
And while these are very efficient ways of burning fat and something fitness models often resort to in order to burn fat as quickly as possible, one thing the participant fails to consider is whether they’ll have the energy to continue doing such strenuous exercises three or four times a week to make a serious difference in the long term. Not only is such exercise demanding on the body from an energy perspective but it can be ruinous on the joints especially if you’re significantly overweight.
Additionally, if you’ve not done any form of exercise for a long while, participating in intense cardio-vascular training may be too much for your body and even put you off continuing with the routine!
So what can you do if you want to burn calories with a form of exercise you could do every other day for the rest of your life?
Well, the obvious choice is walking. Even going for a gentle stroll, because you’re carrying your weight on your feet, you’ll burn calories without straining yourself. A 170lbs woman will burn 154 calories in 60 minutes.
My particular preference, however, is tai chi because you’re moving your upper body much more than walking plus adopting stances that build strength and balance. The same 170lbs woman will burn 308 calories by practising tai chi for 60 minutes. And considering you’re moving as slow as someone going for a gentle stroll, you are able to burn more calories.
Now, the reason for this article is not just to compare intensive exercise and tai chi – there is one other aspect that is overlooked by people who do intensive exercise. When you practice tai chi, you are also combating stress whilst avoiding stressing the body physically which results in a drop in cortisol levels. Why are cortisol levels significant in weight management? The higher your cortisol levels, the more your body is encouraged to store fat!
So when you practice tai chi, not only are you burning fat by moving but you’re building leg muscles (which helps to burn fat while you rest) and reducing your body’s fat storing due to the lowering of cortisol (which will be increased by everyday stresses from work and life in general).
Alternatives to tai chi include yoga (193 calories are burned per 60 minutes) and pilates (burns 270 calories per hour).
And so, fat burning doesn’t have to be a sweaty, painful affair after all.