To Exercise or Not To Exercise…

September 9, 2009

That is the big question these days. Ever since the Time Magazine article, “Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin,” multiple people I know (and who knows how many more) have said they don’t see the point of exercising if they won’t lose weight as a result.

The author of the article discusses studies that show that exercise, specifically cardiovascular activity, isn’t necessary for weight loss, and may even hinder results. The reason for this is food intake after exercise. Of course people aren’t losing weight when they stop for muffins or fries on the way home from the gym! That’s why you usually hear “diet and exercise” in the same breath — it takes both! If you exercise but aren’t careful about what and how much you eat, weight loss will be a hard goal to attain.

On the other hand, if you live a sedentary lifestyle you risk even greater problems, like death and disability according to the World Health Organization. And this is true for you skinny folks too — just because you’re thin doesn’t necessarily mean you’re fit and healthy.

Those who exercise will be in better health both physically and mentally. The benefits of exercise are way more important than just what it could do for your weight — it helps reduce high cholesterol levels, builds muscle, keeps your heart healthy, and plays a big role in how you feel about yourself.

What you do for exercise isn’t as important as actually doing it. You don’t need to spend hours at the gym running on a treadmill or spinning. Go for a walk with a friend, a bike ride in a beautiful park, or play a game of tag with your kids — as long as you’re active that’s all that matters.

To give you a bit of inspiration, I went for a hike this past weekend with Andy, my sister Renée, my friend (and fellow RD) Eve, and her husband Dan. It was a lot more challenging than we all expected, but when we got to the top we felt so accomplished! It was more fun than any day I’ve spent in the gym!

We made it! (That's me in the white shirt)
We made it! (That’s me in the white shirt)

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  1. My hour or so at the gym is what keeps me sane with a 5-month old! I could not give it up. I also find that regular exercise allows me to maintain my weight even if I’m not as careful about what I eat.

  2. The author of this article is right in saying that you can lose weight without exercise… but he’s still irresponsible in neglecting to recognize the myriad of health benefits from exercise and that lack of exercise can cause a decrease in function, especially later in life.

    I don’t care to read his whole article again because it annoyed me, but if I remember correctly, this guy was performing a high volume of exercise ineffective for weight loss.

    He failed to touch upon what EFFECTIVE exercise and nutrition protocols are necessary for weight loss. … Read More

    Furthermore, he also neglects the fact that if one is sedentary, they have to restrict that much more in diet to control weight. Who wants a restrictive diet? Who can stick to a restrictive diet for the long term? What’s the point?! It’s far more beneficial psychologically and physically to follow a lifestyle diet, including all nutrients AND allowed cheat meals ( say 10 percent of meals).

    It’s been shown in public health research that those comfortable with their body composition exercise 5 or more hours per week with most of that exercise coming from INTENSE exercise (weight training, sports, and cardio at 85%+ of VO2max for cardio

    Who wants to look and feel like a skinny, flabby, weak person in the name of abstaining from exercise?

  3. I TOTALLY agree with you! I just feel better mentally and physically after exercise. Even my confidence seems to rise…feeling strong and powerful really does a number for that ol’self esteem! 🙂

  4. Exactly!

    He doesn’t go over the benefits of exercise: increased muscle mass, calorie burning, sense of well-being, athleticism, strength, and above all, FUN AND RECREATION!

    Yeah, all that stuff sounds bad.


    AS IF there are any downsides to exercise besides addiction (which is a whole other story in itself) and overtraining (something that happens by accident)!

    1. Yes, all great effects, but the downside of addiction that you mention is indeed a very detrimental effect for some people, especially those with eating disorders who I work with. These people run themselves too thin and have huge risks of injury and illness as a result.

      So as I say about food, everything in moderation.