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Fitness

Common mistakes to avoid when you're working out for weight loss

If you're working out specifically to lose weight but you're not seeing results, you might be making one or more of these common mistakes.

By Debbie Duncan
The Ministry of Health says to lose weight, it's recommended that you do at least 250 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, such as brisk walking, spread out over the week. For instance, exercising for 50 minutes a day, five days a week.
If you want to prevent regaining the weight you lost, it's recommended you do 150-250 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise over the week (e.g. 30 minutes a day, five days a week).
In addition, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends strength-training exercises to increase the body's levels of fat-free mass, which improves metabolic rate.
However, if you feel like you've been following the general guidelines and not seeing results, consider whether you might be falling into one of the following common weight loss mistakes.

Situation 1: You work out every day

Doing some form of physical activity each day is a smart move when you're trying to shed kilos but repeating the same workout day after day won't do the trick because once your body adjusts, you'll hit a weight-loss plateau.
What to do:
Change up your workout by introducing different activities at varying intensity levels and duration.
Do you normally walk for 40 minutes? Increase the challenge at least one day a week and stretch it out to 60 minutes or more.
Try add different intensity and variety into your workouts, otherwise your body will adjust to the same activity and you'll stop seeing changes. (Image: Getty)

Situation 2: You eat more on the day you exercise

It's normal to feel hungrier when you exercise, especially if you work out on a daily basis.
What to do:
Eat if you're hungry but resist the temptation to feast on whatever takes your fancy as a reward for working hard at the gym. Satisfy your hunger with healthy choices instead.
Consulting a dietitian or nutritionist for advice can also make all the difference.

Situation 3: You move less throughout the day

It's easy to think you can get away with barely moving a muscle in between workout sessions, but if you reduce the amount of incidental physical activity you normally do (like taking the stairs instead of the lift), you're effectively cancelling out some of the good work you're doing at the gym.
What do do:
Keep moving. As well as taking the stairs, have as many standing breaks as you can at work, get outside for a walk in your lunch break, and get off the bus early and walk the rest of the way. Here's 7 easy ways to exercise at work without anyone noticing.
Top tip: Brisk walking can help you lose weight and ease you into a higher level of fitness without the expense of going to the gym. You can do it almost anywhere at anytime, which means you don't have to abandon your fitness goals on holiday.
Brisk walking can be an effective way to lose weight and is something you can do virtually anywhere. (Image: Getty)

How to make walking work for you

By adding clever training techniques that increase intensity levels, you'll experience more weight loss and increased fitness.
Try one of the following methods.
Do intervals
As with all aerobic workouts, adding bursts of speed will burn more fat and get you fitter faster.
For a 30-minute walking workout, start with a five-minute warm-up at a regular pace, then one minute walking as fast as you can followed by three minutes at a normal pace. Repeat five times, then do a cool-down walk for five minutes.
As you get fitter, reduce your rest times, working up to one minute faster and one minute slower.
Walk to the beat
A playlist of high-energy tunes will help you keep up the pace. Aim for at least 100 steps per minute, and songs with around 115 to 120 beats per minute will help you keep the pace.
For real fitness gains you need to aim for 130 steps per minute, so ramp up the tempo accordingly.
Walk on sand
If you can keep the pace up, the increased resistance and effort needed to maintain stability burns 20 to 50 per cent more kilojoules. It's also good for toning the glutes and legs.
Nordic walking
Walking with specially designed poles - similar to ski poles - helps burn up to 50 per cent more kilojoules than normal walking.

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