Turn Up Your "Fat Burner"

Walking, skating, jogging — and eating delicious foods that fill you up — keep your metabolism chugging along at a good rate so you can take off pounds. But for maximum fat burning, here are four ways to turn up the heat.

1. Maximize your muscles

The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn even while lying poolside. But as we age, many of us lose more muscle than we gain, says Michael J. Hewitt, Ph.D., director of exercise physiology at Canyon Ranch in Tucson. The result: we burn fewer calories. The solution: strength training. Lifting weights curbs muscle loss and builds more muscle — along with a sleeker, firmer body. Two or three sessions each week (in addition to aerobic workouts) will do the trick.

2. Vary your routine to burn more calories

“If you like cycling, walking, and swimming, do all three,” says Shawn C. Franckowiak, a consultant in exercise science at Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center in Baltimore. Different forms of exercise build and strengthen muscles in more parts of the body. Other advantages: “You’re less likely to become bored with exercise,” says Franckowiak. And your chances of getting injured are lower.

3. Go harder, burn longer

Exercising raises your metabolic rate, not only during exercise but also after, says Dr. Hewitt. “This is especially true if you exercise at higher rather than lower intensities.” So walk, run, or ride a little faster, or add some hills to crank up the calorie burn and keep it up even after your workout.

4. Think yourself thinner

“Take advantage of the mind/body connection,” says Michael Scholtz, fitness director at Duke University Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, NC. Athletes use such strategies to boost their performance. “They pay attention to what each muscle and part of their body is doing and how it is performing,” Scholtz says. “They tune out extraneous environmental noise and focus on pushing their muscles to perform harder.” The result: better performance and a higher calorie burn.

“Turn off the television, find music that jazzes up your exercise routine, and concentrate on the muscles you are working,” says Scholtz.

What you have in your mind?