Myth: Exercise does not cause weight loss.

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Exercise can help you lose weight.

I have always been amazed at the total rubbish beliefs our there on exercise and weight loss. This one is a doozy.  The fact is that this myth does have a basis of fact behind it, but the believers or myth pushers have over-generalized the facts to the point where it has become a fabrication.  This myth would be news to all the people who’ve lost significant amounts of weight by pounding the pavement or hitting the gym.  To find proof, you only have to look as far as the Biggest Loser TV show.  Many around the globe have lost a significant amount of weight by using the exercise.  

This being said, there is some truth to the myth.  This myth borders on the truth because exercise by itself is unlikely to result in meaningful long-term weight loss.  The old adage that a six-pack of abdominals is made in the kitchen and not in the gym is as true today as it was when ti was first uttered.  The problem resided in genetics and metabolism.  Exercise does not cause us to amp up our metabolism for long-lasting weight loss through permanent changes in our metabolic rate and our genetics eventually catch up with us.  Changes in our metabolism are short-term and eventually, we drift back to our genetically predetermined set point.  I want to stress that this does not mean that you cannot make a change, but what I am saying is that exercise is not the way to cause long-standing weight loss and maintenance.  

Sure, if you exercise for an hour,  your metabolic rate will increase for that hour and for a short period afterward, but your baseline metabolic rate will be essentially unchanged.  Exercise alone is unlikely to magically turn you into a fat-burning machine.   Although this is a commonly held belief among many diet and fitness experts, research indicates that is unlikely and rare to be the case.   

So, why do some people lose weight with just exercise?  The degree to which you respond to exercise alone is probably dependent on genetics and rate of exercise.  Your diet, exercise and genes kind of work together to play roles in managing and losing weight.    Exercise obviously plays a role.  

Exercise can Limit weight gain or slow it.  If you exercise, you will burn more calories, but the effect is not dramatic, and it takes time.  Beyond the obvious calorie-burning,  exercise performed regularly build both cardiovascular health and mental health.  It can improve your sleep and reduce stress.  Exercise can absolutely improve your quality of life and may help you live longer.  I recommend you try becoming more attuned to their body’s needs, reap mental benefits, and have a better quality of life, research shows.

Can exercise help with weight loss?  Exercise can help you losing weight.  Regular workouts also help you maintain better body composition or BMI by increasing muscle mass and reducing body fat.   The best part is not weight loss but exercises the ability to prevent the pounds from coming back

Can it help me keep the weight loss?  Sure, losing weight isn’t easy, but it is a heck of a lot easier than keeping it off once it is lost, but regular exercise helps slow or eliminate weight regain.  As you lose weight, your metabolism reduces in order to promote increased calorie intake.  The hormonal and genetic processes take over to encourage your body to regain those pounds and return to the body weight setpoint.

The bottom line: Weight loss and maintenance is easier if you include exercise, but it is not the only answer nor is it an answer by itself.  There is evidence to show that as little as 30 minutes of exercise daily can reduce weight regain and 45-60 minutes per day is a link to an even higher degree of success in both improving health and promoting a healthy weight.   It is worth 10% of your time to stay healthy.  

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About the Author

ChuckH
I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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