Physical activity is important for a healthy lifestyle. But what is it about exercise that makes it beneficial for weight loss and overall health? Listed below are the reasons why exercise is beneficial:
It Burns Calories
Exercise means participating in activity that requires physical effort as a means to sustain, or improve, health and fitness. When you exercise, you are working out your muscles and making them stronger. As a result, your body requires more energy in order to keep up with the demands that exercise entails. This means that when you exercise, you are actually burning calories and toning up your muscles which contributes to a smaller waistline.
It Reduces the Risk for Certain Disease
Exercise is beneficial for more than just weight loss and calorie burning. It also helps reduce your risk for certain diseases. Exercise has been shown to help improve heart health, reduce the risk for diabetes, decrease blood pressure, and relieve stress. So not only will your waistline thank you but your body will thank you as well when you exercise.
It Gives You Energy
Exercise gives you energy. You may feel tired when you first start but exercise actually helps you feel more energized. It’s even been shown to increase the energy levels of individuals suffering from chronic disease like cancer, fatigue, and heart disease.
Despite all the great benefits, exercise shouldn’t be viewed as the sole salvation towards your weight loss endeavors. Rather, it should be implemented as part of a multi-pronged approach towards weight loss. Here’s why:
Exercise May Not Always Result in Weight Loss
Although exercise does provide many benefits including weight loss, it’s important to understand that this isn’t always the case. Sometimes people find themselves gaining weight because they eat more when they exercise. And this isn’t necessarily a result of lack of self-control either. Rather, it’s often a physiological response meant to ensure that the individual is consuming enough calories to meet their body’s new energy demands. If you find yourself in the position of getting hungrier when you exercise (most of us do), then aim for low calorie, yet filling, snacks. A broiled orange drizzled with honey and cinnamon paired with yogurt is a perfect snack that’s low calorie, sweet, and satisfying.
Focus on Health, Not the Scale
Even if exercise doesn’t always lead to weight loss, that doesn’t mean it’s a futile effort that should be done away with. For one, even if your weight never dramatically drops, your body will still benefit from exercise. And just because your weight doesn’t decrease doesn’t mean your body composition isn’t changing.
Weight is merely a reflection of your body mass but it does nothing to tell you what that mass is comprised of. How much of that mass is bone, blood, organs, fat, water and muscle? You don’t know based solely on your weight. The only way to know those details are to have a body analysis done which most people will never do. So instead of focusing on a vague parameter like weight, focus on your health. Focus on fat loss, not weight loss.
Are you getting stronger? Has your endurance improved? If it has, then you’ve gained muscle and your body is adjusting to your new exercise regime which should be celebrated rather than met with a sigh of frustration! Are your clothes fitting the same, or even a little looser? Great! This means you’re likely losing fat. And even if your clothes are fitting tighter, despite the fact that you’re exercising more and eating well, this may be a reflection of muscle gains and not fat.
The Take Home
The take home is that exercise is good for you, in fact it’s necessary for good health. But it may not always have the outcome that you’d like. If you find yourself struggling to lose weight with exercise, rather than give up, rewire your brain to focus on the positive. And always consult the help of a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist if you feel like you need extra help.