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Can Cutting Corners Work?

Moderate Workout Routines Help Heart, but More Effort Melts Fat

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But if you're trying to lose weight, aim higher -- make moderate workout routines longer than 20 minutes a day, says Andrew Sherman, MD, a physiatrist at the University of Miami School of Medicine.

"Obviously, some exercise is better than no exercise," Sherman tells WebMD. "But if you're ever going to get significant fat-burning benefits from aerobic exercise, the magic number is more than 20 minutes per session."

In the first 20 minutes, your body burns carbohydrates; after that, you begin burning more fat than carbohydrates, Sherman explains. "By exercising for a too-little period of time, you may get some benefits from not being totally sedentary, but you're not necessarily going to gain any fat-burning potential."

"We all would like exercise in pill," Miller tells WebMD. "The American mentality is to get more for less. It's the American dream. But when it comes to preventing heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, it just doesn't work that way." A moderate workout routine -- over the long haul -- can keep fat and disease at bay.

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