What You Need to Know about Exercise for Weight Loss

Should you exercise for weight loss?

Tired lady exercise for weight loss

Should you exercise for weight loss? © Can Stock Photo / martinan

I was disheartened when a young woman told me she was going for a run to undo the sins of overindulgence the night before. Too many desserts and too much partying meant she had to sweat away those extra calories.

She’s not the only one. All too often my clients punish themselves with exercise to burn off food they had regretted eating. Exercise as punishment? Ouch, that hurts.

Other patients quit exercising because it doesn’t help them lose weight. They say What’s the point of exercise if it doesn’t make me skinny? Exercise for weight loss? That hurts too!

Should we really expect exercise to melt fat?

Research suggests that exercise is really important to maintain lost weight, but changing what we eat is way more important when it comes to losing the weight. Although a bit simplistic, a colleague once summed it up very well when she said something along the lines of this: Weight is lost in the kitchen but kept off on the sidewalk.

Weight is lost in the kitchen, and it's kept off with exercise (and smart eating)Click To Tweet

It’s foolish to exercise for weight loss. Here are 4 possible reasons exercise isn’t helping you lose weight.

  • It’s pretty easy to out eat an exercise session. Calorie-wise, you can undo an hour at the gym in 10 minutes at your local coffee shop or with a few extra bites of food at each of your three meals.
  • You likely overestimate your calorie burn. Gym machines are notoriously incorrect. Plus, the numbers they show you include the calories you would have burned even if you just sat in a chair.
  • You might end up moving less overall. If working out makes you feel like you’re done for the day, you might end up sitting more and burning fewer calories overall.
  • It takes a ton of exercise to burn lots of calories! It’s way, way more than you think.

10 Reasons to Exercise that have Nothing to do with Weight Loss

Exercise boosts quality of life. There are plenty of reasons to exercise that have nothing to do with weight loss. It’s worth the effort to form the habit of exercise.

Let's not exercise to burn calories! #weightlossClick To Tweet
  • Boots insulin resistance for 2 – 72 hours. Every single bout of exercise does the body good.
  • Lowers your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and helps manage blood sugar levels
  • Decreases your risk of cancers of the colon, breast and endometrium
  • Tamps down low levels of chronic inflammation
  • Helps prevent heart disease
  • Helps you manage stress and boosts mood
  • Aids in sleep
  • Helps you keep lost pounds from returning
  • Strengthens your bones and helps prevent low bone mass
  • Helps prevent injury

Let’s stop talking about exercise for weight loss. And let’s definitely stop viewing exercise as punishment. Let’s view exercise for what it really is – one of the most important things you can do for your body, mind, and wellbeing.

Exercise for weight loss? No. Exercise is simply good for you!

Every single bout of exercise is good for you.Click To Tweet

If you want to talk more about this, leave me a comment or find me jogging my neighborhood each morning before work.

Cheers for a happy, healthy active life!

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Jill Weisenberger

I'm Jill, and I believe simple changes in your mindset and health habits can bring life-changing rewards. And I don't believe in willpower. It's waaaay overrated. As a food-loving registered dietitian nutritionist, certified diabetes care and education specialist and certified health and wellness coach, I've helped thousands of people solve their food and nutrition problems. If you're looking for a better way to master this whole healthy eating/healthy living thing or if you're trying to prevent or manage diabetes or heart problems, you'll find plenty of resources right here.

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  1. Nan on November 28, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    Thank you for this important reminder. I shouldn’t go to the gym to burn off my Thanksgiving pie (or my chocolate peppermint bark at Christmas). I work out because it’s going to help me prevent diabetes and osteoporosis. Well done!

    • Jill Weisenberger on November 28, 2017 at 1:58 pm

      Yes! You’ve got it. So many reasons to exercise that aren’t punishment. In a way, it’s a form of nurturing!

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Hi there! I'm Jill, a nutrition & diabetes expert and the author of 4 books.

Jill Weisenberger

I believe simple changes in health habits can bring you life-changing rewards.

And I believe willpower is way overrated.

Right here is where you can discover the mindset and habits to stick with healthy lifestyle choices most of the time - and drop the guilt when you don't.

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