The Truth About Exercise

Exercise’s role in losing weight

Time magazine published an article by John Cloud, entitled “The Myth About Exercise.” The premise of the article essentially states that exercise from a weight loss perspective is a total waste of time. The explanation provided is that exercise makes you hungry; thereby causing you to consume more calories than if you didn’t exercise at all. The author goes as far as to suggest that exercise actually results in weight gain, which is the complete opposite of what the participant (with the exception of some i.e., athlete bodybuilder, etc.) hopes to achieve by partaking in an exercise regimen. Cloud does mention, although casually almost as an aside, the other benefits of exercise (disease prevention, health promotion, improved mood, energy, etc.) just in case the reader was thinking about giving up exercising altogether.

Since the article was published it has caught the attention of other fitness professionals. Our ears certainly perked up. I have read other articles rebutting Mr. Cloud’s article and while agree with some of their meritorious arguments I cannot deny that although I think the Time article is potentially dangerous it is not without merit in its own right. The fact is that you can’t exercise the weight off. As I have stated in previous works, weight loss is about nutrition and exercise is about getting fit as hell. However, that said, exercise plays an important role in weight loss and most of the research indicates that diet without exercise leads to individuals putting the weight back on that they lost and in some instances additional lbs. are acquired.

As previously stated, the Time article argues that exercise makes you hungrier and that after a workout session you feel that you’ve earned a treat of sorts; so you get yourself a high calorie muffin at Starbucks. It is my experience that both of these views represent only a segment of the population. There are actually some of us who experience exercise as an appetite suppressant, especially when performed at a high intensity. Also, for the well informed and for those truly committed to losing weight the idea of sabotaging your hard work in the gym by eating a doughnut is preposterous. Diet and exercise are behaviors, and the two behaviors must serve to support one another. That is why properly educating the general population is a critical component in fighting obesity.

While the point of the article is well taken, you’re not going to exercise off a 5,000 calorie day with a 60-minute walk on the treadmill, the article neglects to address the effect that high intensity strength and aerobic training has on the body. As other fitness experts have mentioned in their rebuttals, Mr. Cloud doesn’t even factor in the power of EPOC. I’ve written about this in an earlier article (Fat Loss secrets) so I will keep it brief. EPOC is the calories we expend after a bout of exercise in an effort to return back to “normal.” As with most everything in life, the truth rests somewhere in the middle; you can’t simply exercise the weight off without making any substantial nutritional changes. However, dieting alone is not a long-term solution. Diet and exercise are co-dependent upon one another and any attempt to lose weight that doesn’t recognize this, truly misses the point.

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