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How Much Do the Biggest Losers Exercise?

By Debra Atkinson ; Updated July 18, 2017

Big results take big commitment. One of the most commonly asked questions about "The Biggest Loser" is just how much contestants on the show exercise. It's been a source of criticism of the series because the exercise regimens don't appear realistic for the average person. However, the show's main point is that diet and exercise lead to weight loss. Your ability to lose weight will be only as successful as your ability to find a realistic plan that you'll continue to follow long-term. Those contestants who are able to keep the weight off are finding a way to make the time for exercise beyond the show.


The average individual will attain health benefits from doing 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity, according to "Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise," a journal from the American College of Sports Medicine. However, if you amp that up to 250 minutes or more a week, it also results in clinically significant weight loss. That's a difference of doing five 50-minute workouts a week instead of five 30-minute workouts a week. That may seem reasonable compared with the high-intensity workouts that Biggest Loser contestants do for four to six hours a day with the supervision of trainers. Jillian Michaels, one of the trainers featured on "The Biggest Loser," admitted in an interview with "Time" Magazine's website that for viewers at home without professional supervision, these workouts are not only unrealistic, they're not safe either. The recommended ranges for cardiovascular activity are 20 to 60 minutes, three to five days a week, with a beginner starting at the lower, 20-minute end of the range, three days a week, and working up to the 60-minute range, five days a week.


Professional trainers motivate contestants throughout their difficult workouts every day. Cameras capture challenges and make it easier to avoid high-calorie temptations. Contestants have their laundry done and chefs preparing healthy meals, and they get to enjoy their down time relaxing. Critics say most people wouldn't have those kind of luxuries to fall back on even if they could find the exercise time.

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It is possible to exercise that much if you're motivated, according to Andy Dehnart, television editor who fields questions for "The Biggest Loser" and other reality shows. Dan Evans from season five still finds up to four hours a day to exercise on his own. Kelly Minner, a school administrator and contestant from season one, reportedly works out one to four hours a day, six days a week, reports "Time" Magazine's website. According to the National Weight Loss Registry, these two at least are on the right track. Ninety percent of the registry participants, all of whom lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for over one year, exercise at least one hour a day.


"The Biggest Loser" trainer Micheals recommends not even attempting to repeat what you see on the show. She said the program is medically supervised and doctors approve everything she does. She also has a nutritionist and a dietitian supervising the contestants. Always check with your physician before starting a new exercise program. Work with a credible and certified personal trainer who will design a safe and progressive program for you.

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