Your muscles serve an important role: aside from making you strong, they help burn fat. When you add lean muscle mass to your body, it helps you burn calories. Your body burns 50 to 100 calories per pound of muscle every day (compared to less than a handful of calories, for fat). Simply, you’ll burn more fat by adding muscle.You may shy away from lifting weights because you have no desire to look like a professional body builder. But by strength training you’re not going to end up with the body-builder physique. Muscle requires something to feed it in order to really bulk up. These substances are called androgens (relatives of testosterone), which cause muscle fibers to grow. This is why women can lift weights and build muscle while remaining sleek. Men, on the other hand, get more bulky instantly. If you’d like to tone and tighten a bit, you can still lift weights and do resistance training.The best way to tone your muscles? Do each exercise with a higher number of repetitions (15 to 20) using a lighter amount of weight than usual. To get a long and lean look? You can lengthen muscles through stretching and yoga. Try training to exhaustion—you should struggle through the last few repetitions. You can achieve this goal by using higher weights or lifting them more slowly. This way your muscles are really taxed. They’ll get the message to build themselves up to prep for the next workout.QUIZ: What’s Your Body Type?We know it’s sometimes tough to exercise if you have sore muscles. Try working out early in the day, when you have more energy. Ideally, aim for 45 minutes of physical activity a day. At least 20 minutes a day should involve the sore muscles. Start doing gentle exercises like walking or warm-water stretching. The key is to do only the amount or intensity that makes you feel “good tired,” not in pain afterward.FYI, the average person who walks their dog for an hour only gets eight minutes of physical activity, as measured by a pedometer. You should take about 100 steps for every minute you’re walking.In general, to maintain your protein and muscle mass you need to do:

  • Thirty minutes of walking a day to build stamina- and strength-based proteins.
  • Thirty minutes of strength/resistance training a week to rebuild these strength-based proteins. (So, once a week for 30 minutes, or split up the strength/resistance workout into two 15-minute sessions or three 10-minute ones.)

When you start exercising, you won’t shed pounds instantaneously. You will start to see changes in your overall shape and waist size fairly fast.WATCH VIDEO:MORE: As Seen on TV Fitness Gear: Buy or Change the Channel?