More Misleading News About Exercise

exerciseMore than 45 million Americans now belong to a health club, up from 23 million in 1993. And yet obesity figures have risen dramatically in the same period.

The Time magazine article linked below asks the question -- Since many people get hungry after they exercise and eat more, could exercise actually be keeping them from losing weight?

"In general, for weight loss, exercise is pretty useless," says Eric Ravussin, chair in diabetes and metabolism at Louisiana State University and a prominent exercise researcher.

Many recent studies have found that exercise isn't as important in helping people lose weight as you hear so regularly in gym advertisements or on shows like The Biggest Loser -- or, for that matter, from magazines like Time.

The basic problem is that while it's true that exercise burns calories and that you must burn calories to lose weight, exercise has another effect: it can stimulate hunger. That causes us to eat more, which in turn can negate the weight-loss benefits we just accrued. Exercise, in other words, isn't necessarily helping us lose weight. It may even be making it harder.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

It is true, as I have long stated, that exercise and diet in combination are key for losing weight and staying healthy -- exercise alone won’t do it.

But this article is misleading at best. It not only claims that exercise is useless for weight loss, which is already untrue, but actually makes the argument that exercise is counterproductive. This flies in the face of a mountain of evidence.

I am very shocked to see Time run such a negative article on exercise … especially considering their biggest argument against it is that it may cause you to eat more, therefore making you gain weight. The only explanation is that they were potentially using it to increase readership.

Part of the confusion may be related to when you have a tough workout which ramps up your appetite, The key is to choose healthy foods that will nourish and restore the energy you’ve just lost, rather than a doughnut or order of French fries that will do nothing of the sort, but that Time magazine suggests most avid exercisers “reward” themselves with.

It’s been my experience that the exact opposite often holds true. The more you adhere your lifestyle to healthy habits like exercise, the less appealing junk food becomes.

Most people who are conscious of their health will not want to negate a week’s worth of exercise with a few handfuls of potato chips and fries. And for the times you do indulge, well your body will be more able to handle the unhealthy assault.

Fitness Magazine Challenges Time’s Misleading Exercise Info

There is so much misinformation floating around the airwaves that I want to be sure Time’s negative article gets properly balanced with a positive one. Fitness Magazine has done just that and recently published 10 reasons why exercise is, in fact, a very good method for weight loss

  1. Exercise zaps belly fat

Regular moderate to high intensity aerobic exercise has the greatest impact on reducing abdominal fat -- the dangerous fat that increases your risk of diabetes and heart disease.

  1. Exercise controls calories

You need to burn more calories than you consume in order to lose weight. Regular exercise uses up excess calories that would otherwise be stored as fat.

  1. Exercise keeps lost pounds MIA

Ninety percent of people who have successfully lost weight and kept it off for a year do about an hour of physical activity a day.

  1. Exercise boosts metabolism

You'll lose fat when you diet without exercising, but you'll also lose muscle, which means you'll burn fewer calories. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism and the more calories you'll burn.

  1. Exercise does more than the scale shows

If you gain 3 pounds of lean muscle and lose 4 pounds of fat, you've actually experienced a 7-pound improvement in your body condition, despite the scale only showing 1 pound of weight loss.

  1. Exercise curbs emotional eating

Working out has been proven time and time again to help regulate mood, which has a direct effect on people who eat when they're stressed or upset.

  1. Exercise creates a healthy chain reaction

Healthy habits tend to cluster together. When people make positive changes, like getting more exercise, they tend to work on other health improvements as well, such as eating better.

  1. Exercise brings on the fun

Rock-climbing is more exciting than eating a celery stick. That's why it's sometimes easier to be active to stay slim than to maintain a strict diet.

  1. Exercise stops hunger

People who exercise and diet are actually less hungry than those who only diet, according to at least one study.

  1. Exercise increases energy

Regular physical activity increases stamina by boosting your body's production of energy-promoting neurotransmitters. That gives you even more motivation to get moving and shed pounds.

Exercise is About So Much More Than Just Weight Loss

Weight loss is a goal for many people, and one of the top reasons why people start an exercise program. However, the benefits of exercise extend way beyond your weight. In fact, even if you are already at your ideal weight -- or even if you are underweight -- exercise is still a vital part of staying healthy.

Exercise is simply one of the most powerful tools available to drop your insulin levels, and elevated insulin levels are one of the primary drivers for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and weight gain. It is my belief that properly performed exercise is far more powerful for controlling these symptoms than any drug yet developed.

Regular workouts can also reduce your risk of cancer, boost your brainpower and lower your risk of heart disease, all of which are essential as you get older. And did you know exercise can even help you fight off a cold, cure insomnia and fight depression?

Well it can, and the benefits do not stop there. But as with many aspects of life, all types of exercise are not created equal … and if you want to take advantage of all the benefits exercise has to offer you must do it correctly.

Your Exercise Program Should Include More Than Just Cardio

Ever since I first read Dr. Ken Cooper’s book Aerobics 41 years ago, I was hooked on that form of exercise. Unfortunately, for over 30 years I primarily pursued aerobic types of exercises.

While this is an important type, there are others that are equally if not more important, namely strength training, developing your core muscles, and interval training.

The bottom line is, you do not have to become a slave to hour-long sessions on the treadmill in order to get in shape and lose weight. In fact, if that’s primarily what you’ve been doing you’re doing yourself a disservice.

Your body is an efficient machine, and if you do the same type of exercise day after day, you’ll become quite good at it. However, when exercise becomes easy to complete, it’s a sign you need to work a little harder and give your body a new challenge.

So when you’re planning your exercise routine, make sure it incorporates the four primary principles of exercise I discuss in this video

Although I highly recommend finding a personal trainer to help you reach your fitness goals, if you cannot afford it or live in an area without access to one, you can still reap the benefits of exercise if you focus on varying your routine.

I am in the process of hiring a professional trainer to develop a section of the site where we can have these types of videos available for you.

Be Sure You Pay Attention to Your Diet, Too

 As I said earlier, exercise alone will likely not be enough to help you reach your weight loss goals. A healthy diet is equally important. To get on the path to optimal nutrition, start by reading through my beginner’s nutrition plan

When you finally balance your nutritional needs, your food cravings will simply disappear, and you will wake up each day with more than enough energy. Then, when you add in your exercise routine you’ll notice the pounds will likely melt right off.

This is a gradual process, not a quick fix, and is one that involves changing the way you lead your life. But it is well worth it for how great you’ll feel, and look, when you’ve reached your goal.

Additionally, I am working on producing many videos that we hope to launch next year. I have given three below as examples. A large number of them will use weights but a fair number, like the first two below, do not require any weights at all, and can be used to improve your health.

+ Sources and References