weight loss

Exercise and weight loss, in the news again

Lots of people are applauding this story that’s been making the rounds this week.

I liked Yoni Freedhoff’s comment on Twitter about this study, and the resulting media attention, that anyone who thinks this is good news has probably never tried to sustain a commitment to an hour a day of exercise.

Also, in the news is this story about the weight reducing benefits of bike riding. Now I love riding my bike as much as the next person but I find hours and hours on the bike don’t make much difference to my weight. I reread the story more carefully and it turns out the weight loss benefits of cycling amount to 1.6 pounds. I’m not sure that anyone who is concerned about losing weight cares much about 1.6 pounds.

Finally, in the exercise-weight loss news world there was this story about Americans exercising more and also gaining weight.

I’m with Yoni Freedhoff (again): Exercise is the world’s best drug. It’s just not a weight-loss drug.

There are so many reasons to exercise that have nothing to do with weight loss. Here’s 11 of them.

We need to sever in our minds the connection between working out and losing weight.

I’ve read the research. See Why you shouldn’t exercise to lose weight, explained with 60+ studies .. and The science is in: exercise won’t help you lose much weight but still even for me, I’m sometimes surprised. How about you?

Photo by Everton Vila on Unsplash Lovers share a silhouetted bicycle ride, hands reaching out to each other against a pink sky

3 thoughts on “Exercise and weight loss, in the news again

  1. This subject has intrigued me for a long time because: I lost weight (about 35 pounds, all I wanted to lose) and have kept my weight within a narrow range I like for 18 years, all triggered by exercise. I had not read about all these studies, so I didn’t know it wouldn’t work. Lucky for me.

    Now, having said that, I want to add some probably significant bits. First, I had gained that 35 pounds over a period of 20 years of a relatively sedentary existence while I was working full time and had kids at home. My priority list just did not have space for a lot of exercise. But in spite of that, I didn’t gain more than about 2 pounds a year. The point? My weight has never been eager to trend up. So maybe this has to do with my particular body, and would not work as well for others. Second, I did not begin with a weight loss goal in mind, nor did I adopt anything that could remotely be described as a weight loss diet. I wanted not to gain any more weight, and if, as turned out to be the case, I could launch a slow downward trend, great.

    And that’s one of the things I have picked up from a lot of these studies and articles: exercise will not make you lose a lot of weight quickly. I spent 2 years losing 25 pounds, and for me, that was absolutely fine. My eating and exercise habits were ones I could happily have sustained forever. I ate a tiny bit less (maybe 1/2 cup of rice instead of 2/3 cup; maybe water more often than lemonade). And then, when I got where I didn’t want to lose any more, I gently added a very few calories back.

    So I have to say, I can’t help wondering if part of the problem is in the expectations set up by the various numbers thrown at us, and by the best-seller diet books (like, 1 to 2 pounds per week?!). Maybe? Maybe if we could simply tone things down on the calorie front ever so slightly, and get more active – not to lose weight, but rather to be healthier all over – we could reach a point where our weight was either stable or trending slowly downward?

    This may come across as advocating for weight loss. No. I really don’t care what the numbers say, and I most certainly agree wholeheartedly with all your concerns about body image. Looking the way the magazines want us to is a dreadful goal, as is virtually every externally imposed appearance goal. But sometimes we will, in fact, be healthier or more comfortable if we weigh somewhat less. I just felt better, still feel better.

    I just want to get it out there that exercise is not necessarily useless in weight management. And that what I actually read from these studies is not that you can’t do it, but that doing it that way is very, very slow. And that I suspect that slow may be a really good thing in this context.

    1. The studies show it’s helpful in not regaining weight and that in large quantities it has a small impact. So you’re right, not no connection, just a very small one.

  2. While in college, my daughter made drinking and binges on tacos her comfort after finals in each course. I got her a gym membership. Told her it’s not for weight loss – she’s beautiful, inside and out. Told her she needs a better way to deal with stress. It’s been ten years now. She eats healthy, but doesn’t diet. And the exercise, it’s daily – says it’s her ” thing that she does just for her, no one else.”

Comments are closed.