Many Americans start each new year with resolutions to lose weight, and gym memberships typically increase in January. But in March, resolutions were often dropped. The pounds did not melt away as expected and the sneakers were returned to the back of the closet.
While exercise can help people lose weight and maintain weight loss, according to fitness experts, people can overestimate the number of calories they burn when working out, or they can all. just not doing enough to move the scale. That 30-minute cardio workout that left you sweaty and breathless may have felt like a grueling marathon, but it might have only burned 200-300 calories.
“This can be completely reversed by consuming a donut in about 60 seconds,” said Glenn Gaesser, professor of exercise physiology at Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions in Phoenix. “So we can undo by eating in a few minutes what it took us to burn so many calories over many minutes, sometimes even hours.”
Regular exercise offers many benefits beyond burning calories – so there are plenty of reasons to keep moving into the New Year. “Research shows that exercise affects just about every cell in the body, not just our heart, not just our muscles, but it also affects all other organs,” Gaesser said. “Exercise is something that is vital for good health.”
We have found that exercise fundamentally improves health outcomes largely independent of weight loss.
Glenn Gaesser, Arizona State University, Phoenix
Some of the benefits listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention include more precise thinking, less depression and anxiety, better sleep, help with weight management, stronger bones and muscles, and reduced weight loss. risks of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer of the breast, colon and other organs.
To achieve “substantial health benefits,” federal health guidelines advise adults to get at least 150 to 300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes per week of physical activity. vigorous, or an equivalent combination.
Nina McCollum, 52, of Cleveland, said she began to gain weight after having a baby at 40. Weight gain has accelerated further in recent years, said McCollum, who mainly blamed menopause.
McCollum, who has been physically active her entire life, hasn’t found exercise to help keep the extra pounds off. She now considers herself to be around 40 pounds overweight, but she still loves exercise. She trains at home, does Swedish gymnastics and strength training, and runs stairs. She also walks her dog and on weekends she goes for outdoor hikes.
“I don’t care if I’m not like a stick figure,” she said. Instead, she focuses on staying fit, strong and flexible as she ages, staying healthy, and trying to avoid heart disease, which plagues her family.
Play sports to live longer
Gaesser said research shows that people who are overweight but exercise regularly, like McCollum, still enjoy many health benefits. “We found that exercise fundamentally improves health outcomes largely independent of weight loss,” he said.
Physical activity acts on multiple mechanisms in the body, and so it could potentially help prevent chronic disease and therefore also prevent premature death.
Amanda Paluch, University of Massachusetts Amherst
He co-authored an article published in iScience in October that reviewed several studies and compared weight loss to exercise to promote longevity and improve people’s overall health.
While most of the data was based on observational studies and cannot be used to establish cause and effect, Gaesser said, research suggests that intentional weight loss is associated with reduced risk of 10 to 15% mortality. In comparison, studies suggest that increasing physical activity or improving physical condition is associated with a reduction in the risk of mortality in the range of 15 to 60%.
“The main takeaway message is that just being physically active and trying to improve your fitness seems to offer better prospects for longevity than just trying to lose weight,” he said.
Another study published last year also found that exercise promotes longevity – even when walking much less than the 10,000 not often recommended. Middle-aged people who walked at least 7,000 steps per day on average were about 50 to 70% less likely to die from cancer, heart disease or other causes over the next decade than those that worked less, according to the results of the JAMA Open Network. .
“Physical activity works on multiple mechanisms in the body, and so it could potentially help prevent chronic disease and therefore also prevent premature death,” said the study author, Amanda Paluch, assistant professor of kinesiology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Dr Robert Sallis has long viewed exercise as an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. President of the American College of Sports Medicine from 2007 to 2008, he inspired the “Exercise is Medicine” campaign, which encourages physicians to talk to patients about their physical activity, and even to “prescribe” it.
Sedentary people who are on the move can start to feel better right away, said Sallis, clinical professor of family medicine at the University of California, Riverside, School of Medicine and director of the sports medicine scholarship at Kaiser Permanente in Fontana.
“The first thing is mental health. It’s almost the first thing people notice: I feel better, I have more energy, I sleep better, ”he said. “But then you could just go down the chronic disease list. I couldn’t tell you a disease that is not helped by it, from diabetes and heart disease to blood pressure, cholesterol and cancer etc.
Sallis encourages non-exercising patients to start small and try to stay within federal guidelines.
“The curve is very steep in terms of the benefits,” he said. “Doing just a little bit gives huge benefits. So I try to focus on those little parts instead of feeling like you need to join a gym and you have to do all of that. Get out there and walk.
He also encourages patients to continue even if they are not losing weight. Too often there’s “this singular focus on their weight and thinking that, you know, if I’m not losing weight, exercise hasn’t been helpful to me, and a lot of them use it as a reason to stop, ”he said. noted. “But the weight has so little to do with the benefits. If you can get overweight patients to be active, they get the same health benefits. ”
And being thin doesn’t mean you don’t need to exercise.
“In fact, if you are of normal weight and you are not physically active, you are exposing yourself to a lot of conditions,” Sallis said.