The first thing to consider when planning fitness programmes centred on losing weight is keeping it realistic.
While cycling dozens of miles or running 10 kilometres a day may, theoretically, help to create the kind of calorie deficit that people need to lose weight, they are useless if an athlete is never likely to do them.
The key to losing weight is doing manageable exercises on a regular basis. Weight loss exercise works when it is built into routines. Losing weight is a question of burning off energy to create a 'calorie deficit', which is where an athlete burns more calories than they consume.
By far the simplest way of creating a calorie deficit is with cardiovascular exercise. Running, hiking, cycling and swimming are all excellent ways of boosting calorie consumption and losing weight. Incorporating any of these exercises into a training programme and ensuring that they are carried out regularly, will help to burn calories. Ten minutes of running three times a week will soon bring good results.
Interval training is a great form of weight loss exercise, which can be easily incorporated into most training programmes. It can also take a variety of forms, and be done at almost any venue. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a great way of giving anyone's metabolism a real boost. Intervals work so well that they actually keep your body burning calories for a significant amount of time after you have finished training, due to the oxygen debt that bursts of intense activity create.
It revolves around alternating short periods of intense activity with intervals of rest. An example would be 30 seconds sprinting followed by 30 seconds of jogging. Using gym equipment such the stationary bike is a good way of effectively and accurately measuring intervals. Another way of structuring it is to run between lampposts, or to run up a hill and then jog or walk back down it.
Playing a team sport can also be a useful way of supplementing fitness work. A game of basketball or 5-a-side soccer once a week is a really good way of burning off extra calories, with the stop-start nature of team sport helping to raise and lower heart rate in a similar way to interval training.
Playing team sport can also be a way of keeping your training fresh and varied. The social side of it can keep you mentally sharper, and can help with maintaining motivation, too. As a complement to other, solitary cardiovascular training it can be a superb form of weight loss exercise, particularly for children and young people.
Obviously, tweaking training programmes will not work as effectively as it should without some attention to diet too. A simple way to make sure that training is effective as possible is to cut down on processed sugars. Drink water rather than pop, and replace sugary snacks like chocolate bars with fruit. It is also a good idea to eat more vegetables and less fried food.
A combination of sensible training adjustments and a sensible diet will soon bring results when it comes to weight loss. It is important to remember that changes must be sustained over a period of time for real progress to be made. Only by sticking with a programme can someone find real success - there are no easy tricks or shortcuts.