Exercise Does Little to Help You Lose Weight

Those aerobics classes, daily jogs and punch-kick workouts may have numerous medical benefits, but they’ll do little to reduce your waist size. A growing body of scientific evidence backed by a recent editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine reveals that exercise alone has virtually no effect on weight loss.

One study, recently published in the journal PLoS One, is not really new or surprising, notes Dr. Timothy Church, who holds the John S. McIlhenny Endowed Chair in Health Wisdom at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana. Having studied exercise and weight control for some time, he indicated that calorie for calorie, dieting beats exercise when it comes to losing weight.

The New Math Metabolism

What’s particularly disheartening is that most current calculations about exercise and weight loss assume that one’s metabolism remains steady or goes up with exercise. Not true. Diana Thomas, a professor of mathematics at Montclair State University in New Jersey, led a study that carefully monitored exercise, food intake and metabolic rates. The study revealed that metabolic rates dropped as people lost weight, even though they exercised daily. So while they were burning hundreds of calories while exercising, their total daily caloric burn was lower, which resulted in less than expected weight loss.

Say It Ain’t So

An even more startling study published in the New England Journal of Medicine noted that those who simply dieted actually lost more weight than those who followed a diet and exercised. The explanation is simple and somewhat frustrating. When you exercise, you stimulate your appetite, which encourages you to eat more (your body craves food and you feel less guilty for satisfying those cravings). So in go the energy bars packed with sugar, ditto that juice drink, again, loaded with sugars of one type or another. Worse yet, many people load up on all those fast calories, typically after they workout. According to POPSUGAR, a 130-pound person needs about 35 minutes of dance aerobics or 40 minutes on a stationary bike to burn off 200+ calories (the average found in most energy bars).

Don’t Stop Working Out

Yes, working out physically has many health benefits — reducing your risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and possibly even cancer — but getting rid of that spare tire around your waist? Only if it accompanies a healthy diet. So keep the workouts, watch those calories and ditch the snacks.


Batista S.
Past Member 2 years ago

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus C3 years ago

Thank you for sharing

Barker Susana
Barker Susana3 years ago

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Carol S.
Carol S3 years ago

If you exercise regularly you are much more likely to eat healthy so that is an indirect weight loss benefit.

Crystal G.
Crystal G3 years ago

Another mostly useless article. Everyone is different and so your best bet is to find out WHY you're not losing weight instead of reading (and believing) these dumb things that contradict each other every week or day.

Sen Senz
Sayenne H3 years ago

Just for health is a good enough reason for me

Elizabeth Brawn
Elizabeth Brawn3 years ago

it's 80% diet and 20% exercise and alot of mindset

Mark H.
Mark H3 years ago

Drink water! Good diet with good fats Moderate exercise that fights depression

Ernest R.
Ernest R3 years ago

@ SK F "Exercise and strength training burn calories, and continue to do so when stopped". The kind of exercise is important. One man was fat and bald when he started extensive jogging years ago. He still is. Weight training builds muscle. and muscle burns calories, while aerobics are good for body condition , but virtually useless for fat loss. Fat loss is good, "weight loss" questionable.

delilah st louis
delilah st louis3 years ago

Thank you