One of the first reflexes to lose weight is often to start exercising. But is it effective in lightening the scales? And if so, under what conditions? A point with our expert, Laurent Philippe, a certified sports teacher and trainer.
Does sport make you lose weight? “In a way, yes,” says Laurent Philippe, associate professor of sport. Or more exactly,regular physical activity. The proof: at the beginning of the last century, we ate the equivalent of 3,000 calories a day, without being overweight. People were active, walking, gardening? Today, sport is the best solution to compensate for our sedentary lifestyle, as long as we eat a balanced diet” This last point is essential and conditions a lasting weight loss.
“If you have a tight schedule and you have to make choices, you will opt for an endurance sport that has the advantage of “burning” a lot of calories. In addition, endurance sports are technically simple and accessible to the greatest number of people” Among them: running, which is easy to practice, but can be traumatic for the joints; swimming, provided you swim dynamically; cycling, knowing that 2 hours of cycling is equivalent to one hour of running.
Before exercising, calculate your maximum heart rate
To lose weight, it is necessary to practice a sport at least 3 times a week, at a rate of 45 minutes per session. The effort should be moderate but constant: you should reach, but not exceed, 60 to 70% of your maximum heart rate. This rhythm is easily sustainable throughout the exercise and allows the body to draw on its fat reserves. “First, the body pumps the fats in the bloodstream… before dislodging subcutaneous fat,” says Laurent Philippe.
To calculate your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from the reference heart rate (220). For example: 220 – 50 years = 170.
Find your rhythm and challenge your limits
The regularity of the training that allows you to progress is crucial. After any effort, there is a period of overcompensation (the body registers the effort made and will function for a few days at a higher “level”), which must be used to progress. However, if you only train once a week, you lose the “fitness” capital of the previous session. “When you feel that exercise has become easy, it means that the body has become accustomed to it,” adds Laurent Philippe, “and that it expends fewer calories than before for the same effort. It is then necessary to know how to increase the duration or the intensity of the exercise”
Sport, a practice… for life!
The good news? The more we do sport and the more we lose weight, even at rest, the muscles being big consumers of energy. The less good news: as soon as you stop, the body loses muscle mass very quickly and becomes soft again. “When we have lost the desired weight, we must find enough motivation to continue to do sport … for life!”, says Laurent Philippe. This is why it is essential to always keep pleasure in your practice.”
To achieve this, it can be astute to do sport with a partner, but also to set goals by participating, for example, in competitions. And don’t hesitate to change disciplines as soon as you get tired!
As Martine Duclos, head of the sports medicine department at Clermont-Ferrand University Hospital explains, losing weight over the long term also requires rethinking your lifestyle.