Exercise Improves Your Health, Not Weight Loss

Many of us believe that losing weight equates to better health. And we may exercise to help lose weight. It doesn’t work, our fitness and wellness gym team sees that. Recently Gretchen Reynolds of the NY Times points out that new studies now show that:

“Exercise simply burns too few calories, in general, to aid in weight reduction.”

She references studies by Dr. Glenn Gaesser, an exercise physiology professor at Arizona State University, whose research we’ve followed and mentioned before. (Read the article here). In 2015 his team conducted a large-scale study that had sedentary walk for 30 minutes three times per week for twelve weeks. Two-thirds of them gained weight during the experiment.

You can’t exercise your way to weight loss is our fitness and wellness gym team’s belief.

But here’s the good news: it doesn’t matter. Because regardless of your weight regular exercise improves your health.

After more studies that didn’t link weight loss to health benefits, Dr. Gaeeser noticed that people’s health improved when they started exercising. So, he and his team conducted a study of studies looking at meta-analyses. These analyses pool results of smaller many studies to find meaningful trends. (The study was published in Cell, you can read it here).

His team looked at over 200 meta-analyses and crunched the data. They wanted to discover if an overweight person gets more health benefits from weight loss than from exercise.

“Compared head-to-head, the magnitude of benefit was far greater from improving fitness than from losing weight.” – Dr. Glenn Gaesser

When aggregated, the studies showed that when obese men and women began to exercise and improve their fitness, their risk of premature death declined as much as 30%. In contrast, obese people who just lost weight had, at best, a 16% reduction in the risk of premature death. But in many studies losing weight made no difference in early mortality.

Get up and move. Even moderate exercise improves your health.

Why do we believe this works? Well, here’s what our team of physical therapists and health coaches know: Exercise has three key health benefits.

  1. Exercise lowers your bad cholesterol.
  2. It lowers your blood pressure.
  3. And, if you have diabetes, exercise better regulates it.

Additionally, Our bodies have two kinds of fat. Subcutaneous fat is the jiggly kind near our skin. Experts believe that it’s harmless. Visceral fat surrounds our liver, stomach, and intestines. It also can build up in our arteries. Visceral fat affects how our organs function, and this increases your health risks. (Learn more about visceral fat here.)

Dr. Gaeeser pointed out one more exercise benefit that interested our team. Overweight people generally lose some visceral fat when they begin exercising. This loss helps reduce the effects of Type 2 Diabetes and reduces the risk of heart disease. So even when they don’t lose weight, the loss of visceral fat helps improve your health.

As always, our fitness and wellness gym team is ready to help you improve your health. You can contact us here.