How does exercise fit into your weight loss plan? “Exercise more” is often the first thing people think of when trying to lose weight. The truth is exercising harder does not necessarily mean you’ll lose more weight. In fact, overly intense exercise can actually slow your weight loss. But exercise is an incredibly important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and your overall wellbeing. So how do you find the right balance?
The Calories In, Calories Out Myth
Studies show that people do not lose the amount of weight from exercise predicted by a simplistic calories in, calories out view of the world. Depending on your parents (aka your genetics) the numbers of pounds lost per calories burned exercising often don’t add up.
Even if the calories in, calories out numbers did add up, it would take a lot more exercise than you think to burn off those empty calories. A 150 pound person would have to walk from Palo Alto to San Francisco (approximately 35 miles) to “burn off” 1 pound. A 200 calorie candy bar requires 25 minutes of running at a solid pace (think 12 minute miles).
How Metabolism Factors In
Counter to what you might think, in some cases intense exercise can slow the metabolism of obese people in comparison with non-exercisers. For others, vigorous exercise can cause them to eat more. In some cases this is because intense exercise stimulates your appetite to account for calories burned. In other cases, the Halo Effect comes into play. Have you ever allowed yourself a “treat” as a reward for a great workout? That’s the Halo Effect at work and it’s not helping your weight loss plan.
Exercise Doesn’t Have to Be in a Gym
Exercise does not need to happen in a gym or fitness classes, nor does it require the use of equipment. All body movement is exercise and can be woven into a host of regular daily activities. Walking is the easiest, most convenient form of exercise. Most important, we need to move our bodies more to stay healthy! Much like we have lost our way in eating in the modern world, we no longer move or use our bodies the way they were genetically designed. Modern technology and conveniences have allowed us to become increasingly sedentary. Finding ways to keep yourself active everyday, paired with the right combination of healthy foods, will lead to long term success.
Should I Exercise to Lose Weight?
Regular moderate exercise paired with a nutrient dense low carb, protein, and healthy fats diet, will keep your mind in good spirits and your body in good health. Moderate exercise improves heart function, lowers blood pressure, aids digestion, and provides many other wellness boosting benefits. But intense exercise alone doesn’t always help you lose weight. Said another way, exercise is a great wellness tool even if it’s not a great weight loss tool.