Healthy Living

Exercise and Weight Loss

Exercise and Weight Loss

Exercise is only a part of weight loss

While working out, it is important to remember the amount of calories that have been consumed or will be consumed throughout the day. Robert Kushner, MD, a professor of medicine at Northwestern University and clinical director of the Northwestern Comprehensive Center on Obesity, informs “most obese people feel that they do not see the results they expect from exercise." Kushner emphasizes the need for a healthy diet for weight loss even if a person is exercising regularly. “Once you get the hang of a healthy diet, it is easy to lose weight and feel light. And once this is achieved, the focus should be shifted towards being more physically active to prevent further weight gain," says Kushner.

According to James O. Hill, PhD, professor of pediatrics and medicine and the director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado at Denver, “this is a very good strategy but many have felt the success of the regular exercise even before starting with a healthy diet”. Many studies have shown that exercise is associated with weight loss when done in enough volume consistently. Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP, also agrees with this and always recommends physical activity to obese people so they get the benefits of a healthy mind and body. She always asks the patients to start with walking so as to integrate their body back into their life.

Exercise is essential for maintaining body weight

All experts agree with the fact that exercise is essential for keeping off extra pounds. This is irrespective of how one lost the extra pounds — by diet or by exercise. Hill feels that “it is very difficult to find people maintaining a healthy weight when they are not regularly exercising." People who depend only on the diet may not be very successful in maintaining their weight without regular physical activity. He warns that “it is easy to lose weight temporarily through a diet, but many studies have shown that people regain the lost weight when it is not followed up by regular exercise."

According to Timothy Church, MD, MPH, PhD, director of preventive medicine research at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, “one cannot talk only about one of these – diet or exercise – when speaking on weight loss. Both the issues should be addressed at the same time for success."

Having food in excess may revoke the effect

“Most people overestimate the effect of exercise in burning calories by 30% and underestimate the effect of food in adding calories by 30%," says Kathianne Sellers Williams, MEd, RD, LD, a registered dietitian, personal trainer, and wellness coach in Atlanta. Many times people think that a session in the gym counteracts what they have eaten. The reality is that food portions are often too large to cancel out the effect on weight gain. Apart from the workout, one must look at calories added throughout the day, in the form of liquid and solid, and also how sedentary one has been.

Calorie-count on exercise machines may not be accurate

“Treadmills and other exercise machines often display the amount of calories burnt during a workout session. These estimates are close to the actual value, but one needs to remember that there may be variations with each individual”, says Kong Chen, PhD, director of the metabolic research core at the National Institutes of Health. “This display on the monitor of exercise machines can be used as a motivational tool but not for deciding how much to eat later," says Chen.

One workout daily may not be enough

The best deal for losing and maintaining a weight is to lead a physically active lifestyle apart from a daily exercise schedule. Chen says that “it is not about a 30-minute session daily, but about how to beat the sedentary lifestyle," He encourages people to be active throughout the day.