The Exercise Benefits of Weight Loss
The Exercise Benefits of Weight Loss Within the last few years some science has emerged that suggests exercise won’t help a person lose weight. In a 2009 Time Magazine article titled, “Why exercise won’t make you thin,” author John Cloud makes an argument that exercise is a waste of time for dieters. Not only do I disagree with this hypothesis, I believe I’m living proof that exercise can help a person lose weight.
I will show that there is scientific evidence that proves exercise promotes weight loss, that exercise has been proven to control medical conditions such as diabetes that can contribute to weight gain and most importantly, that exercise can increase overall mental health, which can help people commit to long term health and weight loss goals. Regardless of how a person chooses to do it, losing weight requires that they burn more calories than they consume, and regular exercise is a proven way to do it.
Exercise helps build muscle mass: When you exercise, you use muscle, which in turn helps build muscle mass, and muscle tissue burns more calories, even when you’re at rest, than body fat. And according to the school of nutrition and exercise science at Bastyr University, the most effective way to increase metabolism – and burn more calories – is by aerobic exercise and strength training. In addition to building muscle mass, regular exercise can control insulin sensitivity, which controls a person’s weight.
According to the American Diabetes Association, exercise has the potential to control diabetes by no medical means, reduce severity of the disease, and significantly reduce the risk of long term complications. Aerobic exercise increases insulin sensitivity and, along with proper nutrition, helps restore normal glucose metabolism by decreasing body fat. Strength training also decreases body fat by raising the metabolism. It’s main benefit, however, is increasing glucose uptake by the muscles and enhancing the ability to store glucose. Exercise can make the difference between medical management and lifestyle management.
And finally, research has also shown that exercise is as good as pharmaceutical antidepressants at reducing depression and all around improvement of mental health, which is key in maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle. Subsequent trials have repeated these results, showing that patients who follow aerobic exercise regimens see improvement in their depression comparable to those who have been treated with medication. The data all points in the same direction: exercise boosts a person’s mood. It not only relieves depressive symptoms, but also appears to prevent depressive episodes from recurring.
I can say that personally, increasing my exercise regimen has alleviated symptoms of depression and kept me clear headed, which made the difference in my own long term weight loss goal. In the past I’ve tried and not succeeded when I’ve tried to lose weight by diet alone or with not enough exercise. Each time I did not succeed because I would give up. By increasing my exercise level this year, I have maintained interest in my weight loss effort – because I feel good – as compared to previous attempts, when dieting alone would only compound negative feelings. In conclusion, the Time magazine article is arguably wrong.
While the science in that article does point to the possibility that exercise alone is not helpful for people who would like to lose weight, the bigger picture of weight loss success must include exercise. Personally I know that it has worked for me. Without exercise I wouldn’t have been able lose 20 pounds since the beginning of this year. In fact, it seems to me that this author is maybe even trying to find scientific evidence to excuse himself from exercising. However, it has been proven again and again that exercise is a important part of a lifestyle change that supports weight loss.