Exercising regularly is an essential component to any successful weight loss program. You can decrease body fat by making healthy eating decisions alone, but if you combine your nutritional efforts with exercise, you will see much more significant results.

Exercise contributes to weight loss because it increases the number of calories you burn that day. To lose weight, you must burn an overall greater number of calories than you consume. Therefore, consistent bouts of exercise will significantly increase the number of calories that you burn and make an impact on your weight loss goals.

You can maximize the effectiveness of your exercise for weight loss purposes by participating in a workout program that burns the greatest amount of calories. It takes a deficit of 3,500 calories to lose one pound of fat. If you are able to burn 500 calories per day during your workouts, provided that you're eating healthy, you will lose a pound of fat per week.

What Types of Exercise Are Best?

Exercise activities that burn the most calories per unit of time ire ideal for losing body fat. Cardiovascular exercise, such as walking, jogging, biking or riding an elliptical machine, is the most efficient at burning calories. These types of activities keep your heart pumping fast and your breathing rate elevated, which means your body is hard at work delivering calories and oxygen to your working tissues. The more intense the cardiovascular exercise, the more calories you will burn. According to MayoClinic.com, a 160 pound person per will burn about 606 calories per hour of running, but will burn just about 315 calories per hour of walking. With that said, if you're just starting out with an exercise program, it's a good idea to begin with a less-intense activity, such as walking, until you build up the endurance to participate in more challenging sessions.

You may be surprised, but strength training is also a great exercise for supporting weight loss. While it's not the most efficient at burning calories while you're working out, it actually makes an enormous impact when you're not. The muscle tissue you have on your body requires a steady stream of calories in order to maintain its structure and function. Therefore, the more muscle you have on your body, the greater number of calories your body must devote to that tissue. As a result, your metabolic rate increases. Essentially, you're burning a greater number of calories throughout the entire day, even when you're at rest.

How Often?

The more frequently you exercise, the more overall calories you burn. Ideally, you want to fit in cardiovascular exercise four to six days per week in order to burn enough calories.

Strength training should be performed less frequently as your muscles require rest in between sessions in order to heal. Therefore, try to fit in two to three days of strength training per week, with sessions being scheduled on alternating days.

How Long?

An aggressive and yet quality goal is to get in 60 minutes of cardiovascular activity per day. This may seem high for some, but it's ideal if you're hoping to take off one to two pounds per week. It's important to note that the 60 minutes does not have to be completed during one bout. For those who are limited for time or feel they currently lack the endurance to complete 60 straight minutes, it's completely fine to do 30 minutes in the morning and another 30 minutes in the evening. If you are unable to get in 60 minutes, know that every minute counts. If you can only fit in 15 minutes a particular day, that will still contribute to increasing your calories burned.

The duration of your strength training workout depends on the volume of your session. A quality workout can be completed in 20 to 30 minutes.