What exercise is best for weight-loss?

RightFood4U What Exercise is Best for Weight Loss - Nutrition Programmes - Bray Wicklow Dublin
Ilona Madden - RightFood4U - Nutrition Programmes - Bray Wicklow Dublin

Written by Ilona Madden

July 25, 2019

updated 4 Dec 2023

What exercise is best?

If you are considering starting a new exercise regime, you might be overwhelmed with the number of options that are out there and might find it hard to decide which one is best for you. This can often actually lead to doing nothing!

First of all, I want to make clear that exercise in terms of weight loss is totally over-rated. This theory of calories-in versus calories-out is simply outdated. When I go through the food diary with my clients, I often get the comment “Yes, but I also walked far more last week”.

You will not burn off a muffin by walking twenty minutes more! What is more likely to happen though is that you walk 30 minutes longer and you “justify” to yourself that it’s ok to have that muffin.

Don’t get me wrong, I am totally in favour of doing a lot of movement and exercise, but not because you are burning more calories. Movement is great for the mind, and you feel better in your body. And simply because of that, you will already choose to eat better. Exercise strengthens your body and you are building more muscle which in turn increases your metabolism.

Don’t call it “exercise”, call it “movement!”

Simply move more in your daily life. Exercise seems too formal and can be seen as a “chore”, as something extra that needs to fit into an already busy schedule.

  1. Do something that you think is fun.
  2. Think of something you enjoyed doing as a kid and try it out again.
  3. Consider walking to wherever you have to go to. Sometimes, we are so set in driving to a particular place that we hadn’t even considered that walking there could be just as easy.
  4. Park your car further away.
  5. Get off the bus or train a stop earlier and walk.
  6. Take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator.
  7. Dance!
  8. Go for a swim in the sea.
  9. Get up off your desk every 30minutes and walk around, do some squats or stretches.
  10. Find a fitness regime that suits you, join a club or gym or go to classes. I would suggest, that if you have some time to spare during the summer, make it your goal to visit at least 3 places a week in your area and “test” them. Ask questions, consider the cost, the time you need to invest, how likely is it that you stick to it, etc?

Here are some tips from my personal experience, but this list is by far not extensive. There is so much more you can choose from.

FSM Bray (Weight training and HIIT)

Weight lifting for weightlossI’ve been training at this gym for the last 6 years and at this stage, I’m afraid to stop. It’s become so much part of my daily routine that I don’t really think about it anymore. It is tough at times and sore muscles are part of the package after most classes. But this is the only way to build muscle. To stress your muscle to break down first and then to rebuild and build stronger. If you have more muscle in your body, you are burning more calories as your metabolism is increased even when you are resting. Especially, as we as women get older, building muscle and building bone is absolutely crucial. Osteoporosis is a silent disease that you often don’t notice until you have a fracture. And for many, once they have a fracture in old age, it sets off a downward spiral.

I love the fact that it is all classes, so I have to make sure I’m there on time for my particular class. If I had the choice of going to a gym at any stage and time, I would most likely not get out of bed most mornings, planning Ito go to a later class and then not go at all.

love the community and the fun we are having in the class. Because there is a competitive element, I am always pushing myself much more than I would on my own. And often the coaches stand behind you and count your reps.

I feel safe, as there is always a coach there to make sure you are doing the movements correctly and that you stay injury-free.

I love my toned body and am so proud that at my age I am still able to do most of the exercises and if I can’t I simply scale back or modify the work-out and it’s no big deal.

It is not the cheapest gym to go to, but I know that I make sure I get my 3 classes a week in, to make sure it’s worth my money. If I paid way less, I’m not sure, if I went as regularly.

Another benefit of those sometimes tough workouts is that it makes you more resilient in other aspects of your life. When things at work get tough, you think of how tough that workout was that morning and how you managed to get through it. “I can’t do it” is a phrase that is banned from that gym!

It feels great that I’m able to put up my suitcase into the overhead locker without the help of others. It feels great that I can walk out of the pet shop carrying the two 15kg dog food packs. It feels great to be able to run around with children and join them on the trampoline doing handstands.

I can only highly recommend this gym. Just go down and talk to one of the coaches.

Of course, there are so many gyms out there, and what is important is that you feel safe there and that you have fun and enjoy it.


Just like strength training, pilates increases overall body strength, improves flexibility and muscle tone.

  • Pilates is often used to aid other sports and reduce injury. If you are a runner or if you walk a lot already, doing pilates can really help improve your performance.
  • Pilates can help improve any back issues and injuries and help achieve a flatter tummy.
  • Pilates also focuses on your mental & spiritual health.
  • Pilates can increase confidence & build friendships through attending classes with others.

Pilates instructor, Clodagh Davis, has been training with me in FSM for the last 6 years and gets her strength of the “big” muscles from there, but Pilates works the subtler muscles.

I recently did a collaboration with Linda Monahan in a private facebook group “Shape Up for Summer” in which we not only shared tips on nutrition but where Linda posted videos that everyone could follow easily with Pilates exercises to tone up. We are planning to do this again this autumn. So, watch this space. You can follow Linda on instagram or facebook @pilateswithlinda .


Yoga is fantastic if you want to tone up and use those subtler muscles and facias in your body. You are still building strength and it is good for your bones, but it is very gentle and you only go as far as your ability. There is no competitiveness in yoga. Doing yoga is really beneficial once you get a bit older as it stretches the joints keeping the synovial fluid nice and juicy, which is particularly important if you want to be able to tie your own shoelaces as you age! Yoga is extremely beneficial for balance, and lack of balance can be one of the reason for falls and breaks as we age. Yoga poses also work on different glands, so it can be very helpful to balance your hormones during menopause.

Yoga also works very well on your mind and helps relax. Yin Yoga, in particular, helps you with sleep and stress reduction. And as we all know now, stress and lack of sleep can be a major contributor to all health issues.

But there are so many other yoga variations, and it’s important that you find a yoga practice and a yoga teacher and a yoga studio where you feel really comfortable. Make sure that your teacher watches out that you do the movements correctly and that you don’t over-stretch. Find a yoga studio where you get the most out – so decide first if you want a more vigorous or a more relaxing version.

I can recommend Linda Hickey who works out of PureLight Dance & Yoga Studio in Shoreline, Bray. She offers different types of yoga practices and for all different levels. She has such a calming personality you might just drift off during her class.

I used to go to classes with Niamh Condron, who unfortunately left Ireland, but she does come back every now and then for weekend workshops.

Yoga & Fitness Studio in Glasthule (she used to be in Bray) also offers different yoga practices: Yoga Flow, Stretch & Relax and Restorative yoga, and Claudia also offers a Zumba class for those who want to have a more vigorous approach with lots of fun!


I’m a huge fan of running and have done some long-distance running in the past. However, the risk of injury and the wear-and-tear as we get older is in my opinion not worth the very long distances. However, to get some headspace, I find running invaluable! It is my goal to be able to run 5k at ease as long as I live and therefore, I will always be running.

It is an exercise you can do anywhere at any time. Just put on your gear and your runners. You will break a sweat, which is great for detoxification and you will get some fresh air and a clear head and mind. Doing yoga, pilates or other strength training as well makes sure that you can stay injury-free. It is a great cardio workout to add to yoga or pilates. In my gym, I would get cardio as well through the High-Intensity Training, but they would be shorter bouts of getting your heartbeat up quickly. Just like the muscles, the heart likes to get “stressed”, it stays fit when it gets a variety of intensity during the exercise you do.

Walking the dogs

I have two border collies who are high-intensity dogs, going for walks at least 2x per day is non-negotiable! Having dogs really makes you go out in all kinds of weathers and is also a fantastic way to de-stress. Sometimes, I listen to podcasts and audio-books to educate myself, but most days it’s just taking in everything around me and walking mindfully. Walking in beautiful scenery is the best stress buster you can do.

Everyone can walk and like all other exercises, you can vary it, walk faster or slower, walk longer distances or shorter, you can fit it into every day. However, don’t become complacent. In order to build muscle and bones, you need to do something else as well. And as mentioned earlier, in terms of burning calories, walking is not the way to go.


Of course, I have to mention golf, as I’ve been playing golf for the last 15years and aim to play at least 2x per week. And of course, during holidays in sunny places. Is golf great exercise or a great walk spoiled? I suppose unless you play golf yourself, you would say the latter. If you do, you probably, agree that it is exercise. Where I play – in Wicklow Golf Club – you certainly get some cardio work done, as it is quite hilly in places.

And you do walk for around 5k. It requires a lot of concentration all the time. It is a great leveler. You go out one day and play brilliantly, and the next day, you can’t hit the ball at all. It can be very frustrating at times, but then when you hit some great shots and get great scores, it can be so rewarding! It is also a fantastic social outlet and you get to meet so many like-minded people. Playing golf on holidays can bring you to some beautiful parts of the world, and you can just switch off completely.

Most golf clubs offer really good Get-into-Golf programs if you are starting out. Check out your local club.


During my programs, I not only focus on the foods you eat, but I will also discuss with you how to best incorporate more movement into your lifestyle. Please contact me for a complimentary consultation.

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