Exercise is essential, not only for weight loss, but overall health.

Exercise moves lymph fluid which is the trash cleanup system of the body. Unlike blood, lymph is ONLY moved by muscle movement around it.

There are 2 main types of exercise:

Cardio (steady pace for a long time)

Strength training/interval training (short bursts of high intensity)

So what is the best type of exercise?

It depends on your goals. For most people a mix of the 2 is good. If you have over 50 lbs to lose, definitely start out with cardio to start slowly and burn fat.

However, although Cardio does tap into fat-burning after about 15-20 minutes as a source of fuel, Strength/Interval training relies on the glycogen (chains of sugar molecules) stored in muscles as it is quickly accessible.

Fuel source for cardio: FAT (from fat cells)

Fuel source for Interval: SUGAR (from muscles)

NOW. Here’s what most people don’t realize:

Fat-burning STOPS as soon as you stop cardio.

Fat-burning STARTS after strength/interval training and continues for up to 36 hours afterwards.

Whatever your body burns during your exercise, it switches to the opposite for hours afterwards, so it can replenish the supply of what you were using up, to “prepare” for that again.

Are you burning fat or muscle?

So if you do an hour of treadmill, cycling, even (my favorite) Zumba, you may be burning through fat for part of it but the fat-burning STOPS after you quit.  And if a person isn’t eating enough protein their body will scavenge muscle tissue to burn for fuel. ConVERSEly, Interval/Strength training (strenuous efforts interspersed with rest) burns sugar out of the muscles during the exercise but switches to FAT-burning for hours afterward as it replaces/builds muscle to prepare you for the next time.

The difference in body shape these 2 types of exercise bring is evidenced by the difference between sprinters & runners:

(From Valerie: At one point in my life I lost 20 lbs over a few months eating in a way I now realize was unhealthy for me (basically I wasn’t eating enough) and I was running every day, especially in the evening.  I lost fat AND muscle. I looked like the first guy. I remember my workouts at Curves became less and less powerful; the only thing I could maintain well was a steady jog.  Returning to healthier eating habits and getting my body balanced with a nutritional healing program resulted in a regain of muscle with a corresponding strength gain. Now I alternate with HIIT and cardio, and my short-burst power is really improving!)

For an overall weight-loss program that will burn fat and also build muscle, alternating your days between the two types is best.  For example, I do an hour of Zumba on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. I do HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. I noticed a BIG difference in my fat-burning ability after starting the HIIT…and overall strength. 

How do I incorporate HIIT if I don’t lift weights or want to sprint?

The great thing about HIIT is that you can apply it to almost any exercise, including running (treadmill or outdoors), jump rope, swimming, calisthenics (jumping jacks, burpees), cycling (stationary or outdoors), bodyweight squats or lunges, lifting weights, or punching a heavy bag.

You can sprint, walk, sprint

Jump rope, rest, jump rope

Cycling—all out effort, then easy

You can even do it walking—walk fast, then slow.

You can time each rep 30-60 seconds, or just do it until you’re completely out of breath, then rest for 15-30 seconds.  Try doing 8 sets, then 10, then 12.

Is there a local class I can take?

I’m sure most gyms offer these types of classes; call them to ask about any interval classes they may have. Personally I go to the Harrisonburg Family Fitness on 33 East. Body Blast classes are on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 9:30-10:30.

A gym is not convenient for me; do you have a workout DVD I could follow?

Many of the exercises can be found here on the following youtube videos and done within the privacy of your home.  I would encourage you to get a mat or soft carpet, and dumbbells if you can.


10 min body blast

30  min body blast

10 min no equipment needed

Check out all of FitnessBlender’s videos and use different ones to change up your routine:

22 min Cardio HIIT workout:

Half-hour workout:

40 Min Cardio/Abs workout (no equipment)

If you need them combined into an effective program, here is a great inexpensive ($9.99) ebook that people are raving over:

How do I eat if I want to get ripped?

If you’re looking to get ripped, you know that most meal plans are VERY low fat (i.e. tuna, chicken breast, steamed broccoli, brown rice, oatmeal) which I believe can be damaging as we NEED fats for healthy hormone levels and to build brain tissue, and in fact body-builders who added healthy saturated fat to their diets had higher testosterone.  Also you need fat in order to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K to build strong bones.

Here is a link to a website which outlines how you can mix it up and still have results:

Of course, the best kind of exercise is whatever you will stay motivated to do. :)