Welcome to the new year!
If you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to start doing a lot of exercise for
weight loss, chances are pretty solid you’ll be disappointed. That’s because
exercise (as most of us do it, at least) is not effective for weight loss.
This is in no way a discouragement from exercising. There are SO many
important health benefits to exercising. Even if shedding unwanted pounds
isn’t one of them.
What Studies Say About Exercise for Weight Loss
Over the holidays, you may have indulged more than you’d planned. Join
the club. The problem is, a lot of people believe that if they work out “extra
hard” the next day, they’ll burn off the excess calories. Unfortunately, it’s
more complicated than that.
Studies show that engaging in moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for 30
minutes per day five days per week has little to no impact on weight loss by itself. Walking is one such activity. And many of us count our steps each
day and aim for a certain number, which is great! The fact is, though, that a
150-pound person who walks briskly for 30 minutes typically burns around
140 calories. That’s not a great return on investment.
Now, those who insist on a minimum of 90 minutes of brisk walking or 30
minutes of 8-minute miles at least five days per week will burn closer to
400-500 calories. While this is a more significant number, that amount of
exercise is not realistic for most of us.
Part of the reason exercise-focused resolutions fail is that people aren’t
seeing the numbers change on the scale. They’re discouraged by the lack
of results and begin to feel that exercise is nothing more than punishment
that bears no results.
This is far from the truth though.
Exercise and Movement Offer Tremendous Benefits
It’s all about reframing.
Studies show that folks who connect “weight” and “calories” with exercise
feel it’s a penance and are unlikely to continue. Meanwhile, those who
exercise because they realize how great they feel are compelled to
continue. If you’ve ever done a yoga or Pilates class , you know how
movement helps you feel better physically and emotionally.
At the end of the day, while it may not go the distance in assisting with
weight loss, exercise offers amazing health benefits. It reduces the risk of
heart disease, certain cancers, and type 2 diabetes. In addition, those who
exercise are better able to grow and maintain muscle mass and prevent the
onset of osteoporosis.
If those aren’t motivation enough, there are also mental benefits including
reduced stress levels and protection against neurodegenerative conditions,
So when you’re able to focus on your well-being rather than your weight,
you’re more likely to stick to your resolution. Even if you don’t lose weight.
Does Changing Your Diet Help?
If you’re still insistent that exercise will help you lose weight, more studies
counter this. They show that if you’re doing an extreme amount of exercise
and adding changes to your diet, it will make a difference in your weight.
Since most of us engage in moderate exercise, however, the diet-and-
exercise combo only makes a slight difference – an average of 4 pounds
over a year.
Creating a weight-loss-friendly dietary pattern that considers multiple
factors is going to have the biggest impact on weight loss. Adding or
subtracting exercise will have almost no impact.
Even though exercise may not help you lose weight, it’s important to point
out that exercise can prevent weight gain and help you reduce visceral fat.
This is the fat that contributes to a larger waist and is linked with diabetes
and heart disease.
So once again, exercise is great for your health.
Make This the Year to Focus On Your Health
If weight loss is your goal this year, it’s a worthy one. Unfortunately,
exercise is not going to be an effective route to get you there.
So rather than focusing on exercise for weight loss, consider instead all of
the many physical and emotional benefits it offers.
Pilates is an amazing way to enjoy exercise while strengthening, stretching,
and toning your body. It’s a win-win all around. So contact us today to get
started. You’ll be so glad you did.