Do You Exercise to Lose Weight?Posted: Oct 30 in Weight loss by Dr. Lazarus
Exercise is one of the easiest – and least expensive – steps you can take to improve your health. But the more popular reason given for people to exercise is its contribution to weight loss. We firmly believe that exercise is a wonderful adjunct to a weight loss program but let’s take a closer look at the question:
Can exercise can help you lose weight?
The popular equation used to explain weight loss is to relate calories in to calories out. In other words, if you burn more calories than you consume you will lose weight. Taking this argument a little further, it stands to reason that if you burn more calories with exercise, weight loss is inevitable.
The problem with this equation is that not only does it not take into account just how much exercise you have to do to create a useful deficit, it also does not take into account that a calorie (energy released when food is combusted in a test tube) is very different from how our bodies process food. The theory that creating a 3,500 calorie deficit will yield a pound of weight loss is not true (Casazza et al, NEJM, 1/13). Most studies fail to demonstrate weight loss when exercise is the only tool used (weight loss relies primarily on changing how, when and what we eat and drink).
It would be easy to take this information and use it as an excuse to stay away from exercise, but this is not what we are suggesting at all. In fact, in the National Weight Control Registry, physical activity is reported as one of the most important tools to keep the weight lost off permanently. Other studies have demonstrated that the more active somebody is while losing weight, the more weight they will lose, and they will be more likely to lose the fat weight instead of muscle loss.
If you walk at a 3.5 to 4 mile an hour pace for one hour each day, in a week and a half you have burned enough calories to lose a pound if you are burning about 400 calories an hour. What if, at the same time you cut back a little on the calories you are eating by 40 calories? Now it would take half the time or under a week to lose that same pound.
Now, let’s say for the sake of argument you think you can manage walking each day and cutting out a few calories. But is weight loss really the most important reason to exercise? In our opinion the answer is no and here is why:
Regular exercise reduces your risk for illness
Engaging in regular physical activity decreases your risk for developing some serious health problems, including:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Certain types of cancer
- High cholesterol
- Metabolic syndrome
- Type 2 diabetes
Physical activity improves mood
Feeling down or aggravated? Try blowing off steam with a quick workout at the gym or by taking a brisk half-hour walk. Exercise stimulates the production of specific brain chemicals that help you feel content and relaxed. This physical exercise helps you lose weight and look great too, which always feels good.
A workout boosts energy levels
Regular exercise builds strong muscles and improves endurance, making it easier for you to do just about everything. As an added bonus, physical activity causes your lungs and heart to work harder, delivering oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to body cells and tissues. This also helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently, so you have more energy to go about your day.
Exercise helps you sleep
Studies show that regular exercise significantly improves sleep in people with chronic insomnia. One study found that a single instance of moderate-intensity workout in the form of walking helped the study participants fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer.
One of the qualities of successful weight managers is their commitment to regular exercise. It’s easy to see why when you understand that exercise not only helps you lose weight and maintain that weight loss, but it helps you feel better, and live a healthier – and perhaps even a longer – life. Start exercising today to feel better tomorrow.