A few times a year we see some news publication or media outlet come out with a bold statement that aerobic exercise in one form or another is useless when it comes to weight loss. First off, even if you never lost weight with regular exercise, the (many) positive outcomes associated with regular exercise, still far out way not exercising at all and yes, even if weight loss never occurs.
A recent issue of TIME (July, 2016) looked at the “new” reasons to exercise which I like because it takes the focus off weight loss. In the article, author, Alexandra Sifferlin, shows the research and hits on the following point:
- Exercise improves memory.
- Exercise increases energy – a study out of the University of Georgia, saw “a 166% increase in self-reported energy in men who exercised on bikes for 20 minutes.”
- Exercise may keep depression at bay.
- Exercise can curb food cravings.
- Exercise can reduce the risk of serious cancers – data from the National Cancer Institute showed individuals who are more active than their sedentary counterparts had a “20% lower risk of certain serious cancers.”
- Exercise has mind-body benefits.
Let’s face it, many of us know that we can run a few miles a day for weeks and even months at a time and sometimes by the end, lose minimal or no weight at all. We may think all the hard work and time commitment was a big waste of our time. If you start thinking out of the box and focus on the additional benefits of exercise rather than a primary outcome all the time (i.e. weight loss) you’ll be better off in the long run.
Professor Herman Pontzer of City University of New York (CUNY), stated: “Exercise is really important for your health. That’s the first thing I mention to anyone asking about the implications of … exercise. There is tons of evidence that exercise is important for keeping our bodies and minds healthy, and this work does nothing to change that message. What our work adds is that we also need to focus on diet, particularly when it comes to managing our weight and preventing or reversing unhealthy weight gain.”
Dr. Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England has stated: “Being physically active is good for your physical and mental health and also helps to maintain a healthy weight. However, the evidence shows the most effective way of losing weight is to reduce calorie intake through a healthy balanced diet.”
Oh and by the way researcher Rena Wing, PhD, from Brown University and her colleagues at the National Weight Control Registry have followed a large group of subjects (>10,000) who have lost a significant amount of weight, and more importantly, have kept it off for many years. Registry members have lost an average of 66 pounds and have kept it off for 5.5 years. One of their secrets is exercising (walking) for an hour a day!
Exercise alone won’t cause weight loss, study shows, The Guardian, January 2016.
The new reasons to exercise, Alexandra Sifferlin, Time Magazine, July, 2016.