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Disassociating exercise from weight loss
Disassociating exercise from weight loss
Anastasia avatar
Written by Anastasia
Updated over a week ago

Today’s short read

  • The main benefit often attributed to exercise is its ability to burn calories

  • However, this is a very minor aspect of why exercise is so beneficial for us. In reality, the calorie-burning effect of exercise is the least important aspect of our health.

  • Research consistently shows that the fitter we are and more we move, the longer we’ll live. This association is true whatever your current weight is.

  • Additionally, exercise has profound effects on our mental health, social connections, and overall sense of wellbeing

  • Research shows that people who exercise and move more are happier and live longer, more fulfilling lives

  • The true benefit of exercise comes from its profound impact on how we feel, move, and function

For decades the prevailing health message has been to ‘eat less and move more’.

The move more component of this message has led to the belief that exercise is only helpful to burn calories and lose weight.

However, isolating the calorie-burning component of exercise fails to consider the wealth of evidence linking exercise to endless health benefits.

Moving beyond exercising to burn calories

Too much focus is often on how many calories you burn through exercise. You see videos on YouTube titled ‘30-minute calorie burner!’ or ‘Belly fat burning workout!’.

The truth is exercise is so much more than calories. Exercise is possibly the most significant health and longevity tool at our disposal, alongside sleep, mental health, and nutrition.

Research has consistently shown that the fitter you are, the longer you’re likely to live and the lower your risk of death from all causes and the risk of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

This association between fitness and health is true across all BMI groups. So, whether you’re classified as healthy, overweight, or obese in the BMI scale - exercise will still help you live longer and be healthier.

There’s also strong evidence that exercise promotes a healthier brain. It seems to promote the ability of the brain to produce new neural connections (as well as strengthen existing ones) to support learning and memory, as well as productivity and creativity.

Additionally, exercise and physical activity are strongly linked to weight loss maintenance.

Research on people who’ve lost weight in clinical trials shows that physically active individuals are much more likely to maintain weight loss compared to those who don’t.

Long-term exercisers have improved satiety (hunger and fullness) signalling compared to sedentary individuals. Regular exercise training may improve your body’s ability to self-regulate your intake.

Exercising and moving for health

Exercise and physical activity also bring many other health benefits beyond the physical. Research consistently shows that those who exercise are happier and lead more fulfilling lives.

Here’s a list of benefits we might experience when we exercise and move our body regularly:

  • New friendships and stronger social connections

  • A stronger sense of community

  • Explore new areas and access to nature

  • Lower stress levels and a greater ability to manage stressful situations

  • More patience

  • Better sleep

  • Improved productivity and problem-solving

  • Improved mood and a general sense of well-being

  • Lower risk of developing mental health conditions like anxiety and depression

  • Improved self-esteem

  • Greater independence as we age

Take home message

We’ve been conditioned to believe that exercise is all about counting calories to help us lose weight.

In reality, the true benefit of exercise comes from its profound impact on how we feel, move, and function.

In short, there doesn't seem to be one element of the body that isn’t improved in some way by regular exercise.

So, exercising and moving more will help you live a longer, healthier, and happier life.

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