When it comes to figuring out which exercise to do to lose weight, you might be recommended dynamic, intense exercises such as burpees or sprinting. However, although these exercises are great for what they do, these are very high-impact ways to work out – not always ideal for seniors, or people embarking on a fitness journey for the first time.
Rather than focus on the best exercises for weight loss (although our guide is still worth a browse) you might want to try the road less travelled. A recent study found Tai Chi, that very slow, peaceful, low-intensity martial arts practice, is great for reducing the waistline, according to a recent study of seniors and middle-aged adults.
The research, published by the University of California, studied 543 participants which were randomly assigned to three different groups: one control group with no exercise, conventional aerobic exercise and strength training, and a tai chi group. At the end of the 12-week study, the results showed Tai Chi "mirrors the beneficial effects of conventional exercise" resulting in just as big of a decrease in waist circumference.
This could be due to a combination of movement and the practice's calming effect, lowering the presence of the stress hormone known as cortisol in our body. As well as the "fight or flight" mentality, cortisol encourages our bodies to store fat, especially visceral fat around our belly, according to research. A decreasing amount of cortisol means less belly fat stored, which could be contributing to the waistline reduction.
In addition, Tai Chi is great for developing coordination, maintaining mobility, and acts as an isometric exercise as you hold positions with bent legs, taxing your core, glutes and hamstrings.
If you're looking for more low-impact weight loss exercises, we also recommend you try an elliptical machine. Ellipticals are wonderful tools for weight loss as they offer both a cardiovascular and resistance workout, thanks to the accompanying handles and multiple levels of magnetic resistance you can apply.
They're also great for your core and are very low-impact, with no repetitive instances of your feet hitting the floor or a treadmill belt. Our guide to the best elliptical machines is a great way to get started.
Finally, it's worth noting that a slimmer waistline is as much (or more) a result of your diet as it is exercise. Checking the size of your portions against a portion size guide and swapping greasy, fried carbohydrate-heavy foods for healthier options will definitely kick-start your weight loss.
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Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and is currently Fitness and Wellbeing Editor at TechRadar, covering all things exercise and nutrition on Fit&Well's tech-focused sister site. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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