Exercise will never result in significant weight loss unless you dedicate a lot of time to it and dramatically change your eating habits. Just look at the ads offering exercise equipment and exercise programs. They almost always say in the small print that you only achieve the results they advertise when combined with a proper diet and their exercise. Translation – eat less, exercise more and you’ll lose weight and look better.
The facts about exercise and weight loss
In order to lose 1 pound of weight you have to burn 3,500 calories and to do that with a typical exercise routine will take about one month. You heard it right, you’ll have to exercise for about one month to lose one pound.
If you do a typical exercise routine with a home gym or at fitness center it is likely that you’ll burn less than 300 calories per session. Therefore in order to lose just one pound of weight through exercise, you would have to do 30 minutes of exercise for about 12 days each month. And that’s assuming you didn’t increase the amount of calories you take in.
While doing body building and other exercises, most of us burn about 7 to 10 calories per minute. However, that’s only for the minutes you are exercising. Much of a one hour exercise session is spent moving from machine to machine, changing equipment and just hanging out.
So under the best conditions using an average of 8 ½ calories per minute and exercising for 40 minutes out of a one hour exercise session, one would burn about 340 calories. Using the recommended 3 workouts per week, that’s about 1,020 calories each week we would burn through exercise. It would take about a month of exercise at this rate to lose about a pound. And most of us don’t work out at that pace.
One of the other surprising findings of recent research is that people who do exercise tend to reward themselves for taking the time to go exercise. We all know the feeling of, wow I just burned up 300 calories, I can afford to have that donut. Just one won’t hurt. Many gyms now stock fruit juice bars and drink machines where the average drink is about 200 to 300 calories.
Obviously you are still 300 calories ahead by exercising because if you’d eaten the donut or had the drink anyway you would have been plus 300 calories.
So the question then becomes; am I prepared to exercise for an hour just so that I can eat one donut or have a juice drink. Or would it be smarter and easier to just figure out how not to eat the donut or have the drink.
The same logic applies to all forms of exercise. If you’re not enjoying the exercise or you aren’t doing it for a purpose other than weight loss, is it really worth doing it for the purpose of weight loss?
These are the facts about exercise and weight loss. They aren’t put here to scare you away from exercise or encourage you to exercise. They are simply facts that you can use to decide if exercise is a worthwhile activity for you.
Here are some typical exercises and how many calories the average 155 pound person would burn doing them for 30 minutes.
You will also see the food you could forgo to accomplish the same thing.
Walking at a moderate pace – 130 calories – One slice of bread
Jogging – 350 calories – Roast beef sandwich at Subway
Stationary bike – 250 calories – Tostada at Taco Bell
Moderate weight lifting – 135 calories – Cheese on your ham sandwich
Swimming – 300 calories – Two servings of potato chips
Low impact aerobics – 175 calories – One serving of potato chips
These kinds of exercises actually burn a fairly significant amount of calories, if you do them on a regular basis. But the reality is that very few of us will ever do these kind of exercises for this amount of time for the rest of our life. So counting on them to be the answer to weight loss is just not realistic.
None of these numbers represent specifics about calories eaten or burned, but they are pretty representative of what most people would experience.
Exercise and Fitness
Exercise obviously has another benefit because it improves our physical fitness level and our health. It is well documented that people who continue exercise are healthier and their bones are stronger. But that’s only if you continue to exercise over a long period of time.
One of the well established facts about intense exercise is that it has an extremely high burnout rate. Even college and professional athletes get tired of exercising at a high level and need to take a break.
And how many professional athletes that are now in their 40’s, 50’s and 60′.s look just like the rest of us, overweight and out of shape.
How many people have you known that have taken up exercising and eventually given it up. I’ve only known one person that has exercised regularly and intensely all his life, and he loves it. For him it is now a habit that he can’t do without.
The reality is that for most of us exercise is a chore or at best something we feel like we have to do. It just not something most of us enjoy.
The good side of this is that it’s not necessary to do intense or prolonged exercise to get the benefits of activity. About 30 minutes a day of doing something other than sitting around will provide significant health benefits and will create a more receptive attitude about eating and activity habits. And that’s our goal.
There is a very simple alternative to exercise – it’s called activity. Just do something other than sit around.
Get out and walk in the morning or in the evening. Use it as an excuse to walk the dog, as a way to get 15 or 20 minutes of peaceful conversation with your spouse or simply as a way to starting moving. Walking is without a doubt one of the best sources of activity there is. It’s healthy, it clears your mind, it makes you feel good and you might just start to like it. And it’s easier on your body than running or body building.
Even if you decide to start exercising, keep it simple and keep it easy. To get the benefit of exercise it’s not necessary to work up an intense sweat of run yourself out of breath. If you go to a gym, take it easy. Use the machines, use the treadmill and mix it up spending 10 or 15 minutes in each area. Exercise is cumulative. If you exercise for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening, it’s still 20 minutes of exercise.
If you don’t want to walk or exercise, find another activity that forces you to push, pull, bend and twist on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be on anyone’s “approved” list, you just have to find something to enjoy. If possible, do it with someone else. It’s very hard to get motivated when you have to do it by yourself.