Why your exercise routine is making you gain weight!
Yesterday, I reported on new evidence that exercise plays no significant role in real-world weight loss. That’s crushing news to some, who may have pinned their weight loss hopes on rigorous programs of intensive physical activity. And it flies in the face of recent efforts by the soft drink industry to turn attention away from sugary beverages and towards customer’s supposed need to exercise more to lose weight—and never mind about all those empty calories you’re drinking…
But a large, comprehensive meta-analysis of weight loss studies concludes that exercise simply doesn’t lead to significant weight loss. Rather, it tends to boost appetite, and most of us eat more in response. Only cutting calories works, exercise or no.
But that’s not to say that exercise isn’t important. Crucial, even. Weight loss is just one small component of excellent health, and even then, only if you happen to be overweight. Achieving and maintaining optimal health requires adherence to good nutrition, healthful lifestyle practices (keeping stress in check, maintaining close friends and family support networks, getting plenty of restorative sleep, avoiding toxins, etc.), and regular physical activity. The latter is what I want to focus on today.
I thought now might be a good time to briefly review the many, amazing benefits of regular exercise. According to the May Clinic, in Rochester, Minnesota, exercise combats heart disease by boosting “good” HDL-cholesterol levels, among other things. It also decreases levels of potentially problematic triglycerides.
Exercise boosts mood. Boost feel-good brain chemicals with a quick 30-minute walk. There’s a reason things seem simpler and less anxiety-provoking after a simple walk outdoors. Exposure to fresh air, green plants, and sunlight are all arguably good for mood, too.
Exercise enhances energy. It’s seems paradoxical, but it’s true. People who make the effort to exercise, even when they’re tired from a long day, report feeling more energy afterwards, not less. In contrast, couch potatoes tend to feel low-energy despite conserving energy while sitting doing nothing.
Exercise promotes better sleep. Research has consistently shown that problems falling asleep and staying asleep—insomnia—often resolve on their own when one regularly engages in physical activity. One caveat, though: Don’t exercise intensively too close to bedtime. It can be arousing, rather than sleep-inducing.
The Mayo clinic website. Patient Care and Health Info. Accessed Aug 19, 2015 from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389?pg=1