Fitness: Does exercise matter?

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Throughout my life I have always maintained some type of physical activity until I became an adult. Life got in the way and my time for exercise diminished. I would go on health kicks where I would eat healthy and work out. This usually resulted in going to the gym hard core for several months and feeling great. However, one day off turned into one week and then weeks into months with no return trip to the gym.

Most people that I encounter have gone through this same experience. They go to the gym for a few months and then just fall off. This type of behavior often goes on for a lifetime and people get frustrated. What is the point? Why am I not seeing results? I have no time for this. In our culture there is such a strong emphasis on working out as the first means of losing weight and I began to wonder is this really true?

My answer is NO. In my experience, exercise alone will not get most people who have significant weight to lose (20lbs or more) to their goal. I will even venture to say that exercise to people just starting out with no fitness background often hinders weight loss. Now let me explain. Weight has to do solely with what you eat, so if you eat less you lose. Its really simple math. Reducing your calorie intake and eating nutrient rich foods (foods closer to their natural state) will yield weight loss results. Point. Blank. Period.

Its purely psychological why exercise hinders people just starting out with no fitness background. What happens is we go to the gym and have no clue what to do so we either don't do enough or do too much. The “not doing enough” crowd will usually reward themselves by eating and cancel out the the workout they just did. The “doing too much” crowd will be exhausted after a few weeks and give up all together. Do you see the dilemma? I have been on both sides.

So does exercise really matter? Yes, but not for the reasons that you may think. If your sole reason for exercising is to lose weight then you are going to be disappointed. Last year I when I first became a triathlete (and still had 30lbs to drop) I though I would be super thin and trim when it was over and I wasn't. Mind you, I was biking almost 200 miles a week and running close to 30 and I only lost 3 lbs. This is not to say “don't exercise” because the benefits of exercise are manifold. Working out helps you stay fit, boost your metabolism, makes your heart stronger, increases self esteem, sculpts your body, helps with digestion and just overall good health. I love to stay active and it is one of the reasons I have maintained my weight and when I do eat poorly my body doesn't pack on the pounds. However, the benefits of exercise were not made clear till after I changed my diet and lost the weight.

So before you make that call to order p90x or zumba THINK. What are your goals? If you have 20lbs or more to lose maybe you should rethink your plan of attack and concentrate on your diet. If your ONLY strategy for losing weight is exercise then you will be disappointed.

What do you think? Do you think exercise is overrated? Why do you exercise?  Share your thoughts.