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Exercise and Weight LossFirst off, I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Danny Cahill, The winner of the latest season of “The Biggest Loser” and all those who participated in that program. Let them be an inspiration to everyone who wants to lose weight. Mr. Cahill lost 239 lbs by eating a proper diet AND exercise!

This flies in the face of the recent article entitled “Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin” by John Cloud in the August, 17th 2009 edition of Time Magazine which will be the focus of this post. In this article Mr. Cloud reports that recent research suggests that exercise not only doesn’t help you lose weight but will stimulate your hunger and make you cheat on your diet. This of course, is total nonsense. Here’s why:

Exercise has long been a vital part of, not just weight loss, but maintaining your overall health. There have been so many studies that consistently prove this premise that you should honestly ignore the Time magazine article entirely. I’ve created a list of the benefits of exercise; some of these will surprise you!

Boosts Energy
Consistent exercise increases your energy and stamina by stimulating the production and release of energy promoting neurotransmitters in your brain, which in turn, provides you with more motivation to keep exercising and losing those unwanted pounds.

Burns Calories Faster
Losing weight is a simple matter of burning more calories than you take in. Exercise helps you prevent unneeded calories from being stored as fat. Another approach to weight loss involves limiting caloric intake – which can be helpful in many cases – HOWEVER dieting without exercise leads to a loss of muscle and fat. Including exercise prevents the loss of muscle.

Lowers Hunger
Contrary to the Time magazine article, at least one study found people who use exercise along with proper diet had less hunger than those who relied on diet alone for weight loss. Furthermore, you are more likely to choose more appropriate foods when exercising.

Increases Metabolism
As mentioned before, dieting without exercise can lead to muscle loss – and this can further slow your metabolism. Therefore, exercise – especially muscle building activities cans stimulate your metabolism which in turn cranks up the fat burning processes in the body. Remember: more muscle = higher metabolism!

Better Mood
Regular physical activity has been found to help serious mood-disorders such as depression and anxiety. It is a very effective way of dealing with stress and can prevent binge or stress eating.

Increases Intelligence??
This one actually surprised me. Research has discovered that regular exercise can lead to an increase in neurons in mice, discovering that mice given an exercise wheel were able to learn new tasks better than sedentary mice. It stands to reason really, we as a species are meant to move – for thousands of years we were nomadic in nature – our muscle structure alone promotes internal health when properly exercised.

Burns Belly Fat
Numerous studies have found that regular moderate to heavy intensity aerobic exercise helps burn abdominal fat, which has been identified as a risk factor for diabetes and heart disease.

Fat vs. Muscles – What The Scale Reads…
One aspect of the TV show The Biggest Loser that has bothered me is their excessive use of the scale. It’s important to remember that muscle weighs more than fat, without realizing this some people may get discouraged unnecessarily as they may have only lost 1 pound according the scale, but in reality they may have lost 4 pounds of body fat, while adding 3 pounds of metabolism boosting muscle. This is really a 7 pound net improvement in their health.

What is The Best Exercise Program?
Ultimately, one hour of exercise per day is the best for weight loss. Interval-based exercise which combines intense exercise with specific rest periods has been found the most beneficial. The intensity should be based on what you can handle, remember safety and good form is essential. I recommend finding a local fitness trainer specializing in internval exercise.

Time magazine has really done everyone a great disservice with the publication of this misinformed and poorly written article. Exercise has always and will remain a vital part of the weight loss process. Furthermore, it is simply impossible to achieve optimal health without exercise. Its as simple as that…

References

Time Magazine, August 9, 2009

Fitness Magazine, August 19, 2009

USA Today, September 21, 2005

photo credit: mrhayata

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