Exercise for Your Health Not Weight Loss
If you can’t stomach the thought of going to a gym to workout, in front of a bunch of strangers, and wearing outfits that would be too tight for a twig, we have some good new and some bad news.
First the good news, (because the bad news isn’t really that bad, or at least unexpected).
There’s an increasing amount of research that shows exercising purely for weight loss doesn’t work very well.
Why Exercise Doesn’t Help Weight Loss
The problem starts with the numbers game that we play with calories and our weight. We make a straight line connection between the numbers of calories we burn and how much weight we expect to lose after burning those calories.
3,500 calories has been used by everyone, from the Mayo Clinic to the authors of the latest diet fad, as representative of one pound of fat. That is, if you eat 3,500 calories more than you burn, you would gain one pound, and vice versa.
But there is increasing evidence that the over-simplified, straight-line, one-for-one connection between calories burned and calories consumed is somewhat misguided, and here are some of the reasons why:
1. By Itself, Exercise Does Little for Weight Loss
Countless studies have found little correlation between exercise and significant (more than a few pounds) weight loss, even during extended exercise programs lasting four or five months.
University of Alabama researcher, David Allison, sums up much of the research by pointing out that extra physical activity has a modest effect on weight loss. “A lesser effect than you’d mathematically predict” he said.
2. Physical Activity is Only a Small Portion of the Calories Burned by Your Body
By far, your basal metabolic rate, which you cannot permanently alter, accounts for much more energy than average activity and extra exercise. In a day of average activity, your basal metabolic rate and the energy you use to eat, would account for over two thirds of the calories you consumed. Physical activity accounts for about 30%. So the extra exercise you get only really affects about one third of the calories you eat every day.
3. It’s Difficult to Create a Weight-Reducing Calorie Deficit With Exercise Alone
According to the Healthy Body Weight Planner, if a hypothetical 200 lb man undertook one hour of medium intensity jogging four times a week, while keeping a constant calorie intake, and did so for a month, he would lose five pounds, or about 2.5% of his weight.
If the extra exercise at all increased his appetite/energy intake, or he became less active in other parts of his life, the weight loss would be even more marginal.
4. We Underestimate Calories Consumed and Overestimate Calories Burned
It’s why many people can’t lose any weight despite a fairly active exercise program. Exercise makes us hungry. And we’ve just finished a good workout. So why not treat ourselves. But a single slice of pizza can erase the results of an hour’s workout.
There is also evidence that many people simply slow down after a workout. Your body can only do so much, and if you use a lot of energy during exercise, you have less for other activities later. Activities that you might have done had you not exercised.
5. There Appears to Be a Ceiling on How Much Energy You Burn
In a study of over 300 adults, who already did a certain amount of regular physical activity, each participant was placed in either a sedentary group (little or no activity), a moderately active group (exercised two or three times a week) or super-active group (almost daily exercise).
When researchers analysed the findings, they found that, while the moderately active people burned 200 more calories per day that the sedentary group, the difference in the calorie burn between the moderately active and super-active groups was much less.
The “Bad” News – Exercise is very good for your health. It would be an unhealthy mistake for anyone, trying to lose weight or not, to take any findings that exercise by itself has only moderate effects on weight loss, as a free ticket to sit around all day.
From increasing metabolism, to strengthening your heart and improving your sleep, exercise has countless benefits that promote overall health and give you the energy to take the steps that will actually help you lose weight.
If you want to learn more about how to healthily get noticeable and sustainable weight loss results, visit your local Herbal One Nutrition Centre where a trained nutritional consultant is ready to help show you the way and help you get there.