There's an interesting article in TIME that says exercise doesn't do much for weight loss.


I've been a member of the same health club for over 15 years, so I've observed lots of regulars and how their bodies change. One thing I rarely see is people losing weight, no matter how often they go to the gym. Personally, I've never heard of anyone losing significant weight by eating the same as they always did and exercising more. But I know plenty of people who have lost weight by eating less, regardless of how much they exercised.

Today's question: Did you already know that exercise is nearly useless for weight loss? And if not, what kept you from noticing the obvious?

(Note: Experts still agree that exercise is vital for good health, but not because of weight loss.)

Rank Up Rank Down Votes:  +12
  • Print
  • Share


Sort By:
Aug 10, 2009
I had to take "exercise physiology" (what PE is called @ engineering schools) in college & we were taught (by our Physiology PhD prof) that the BEST strategy for sustainable weight loss is a net 500 calorie/day delta from equal parts diet & excercise. the problem is it takes 45 min to an hour to burn 250 calories but less than 30 seconds to consume it... I strongly suspect that the vast majority of people not losing weight exercising are more than offsetting what they're burning w/additional consumption.
Aug 10, 2009
I have found the opposite to be true for me. I lost 60 pounds just by exercising - running and stairmaster. Then by yoga.
I had some surgery that stopped by exercise for 4 months and I gained weight back immediately.
Note that the food consumption was pretty much the same, although I did try to cut back the amount.

This experience was common to 3 of us at the same gym.

I cannot lose weight and keep it off without exercise - diet is not good enough.
Aug 10, 2009
People, in general, misunderestimate two things. First, it takes an unbeleiveable amount of exercise to burn calories. People think that a couple hours a week will make difference, but it takes a couple a hours each and every day to make a difference.

Second, people don't understand the eye-hand-mouth interface. Your eyes are opportunists, always looking for the next great thing. Your hands are dumb, they will go where ever the eyes suggest. Your mouth is a !$%*! it will open wide at every chance it gets. So what happens is that a doughnut will move from your eyes to your mouth with absolutely no conscious effort. We need a strong mechanism to over ride the automatic eye-hand-mouth interface.
Aug 10, 2009
"You can't outrun a bad diet" is pretty common knowledge in the fitness community. Even if you work really hard and burn a generous 20 calories per hour, if you top off your workout with an "energy" bar, you've undone everything.
Aug 10, 2009
The article I read indicated that if you increased your exercise without tracking your food intake, most people tended to eat more. The fundamental principle that you will gain weight if you eat more calories than you expend, and you will lose weight if you expend more calories than you eat is still true. I have been struggling with this for years. Lately, I have been using an iPhone app called "LoseIt" (free) to monitor my calories in and what I am burning from exercise. I am hoping to find my personal balance point. Each of us has our own balance point, not the 2000/2500 calorie recommendation that is on all food packaging. For those of us who are sedimentary office workers, the balance point may be much lower if we are not getting any exercise. If you are working something like construction, it might be much higher because of the physical labor of your job.
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 10, 2009
I think I read an article a couple of years ago about a study that concluded that if you have to choose between dieting and exercise, dieting is the way to go. I choose to be fat but fit (eat all I want but work out regularly), though my knees are starting to tell me it is time to drop a few pounds :-)
Aug 10, 2009
I had a feeling that was true. My overweight dad lost a bunch of weight by just eating healthier. He did nothing to change his amount of exercise.
Frankly, the overweight people should still exercise, but on electricity bikes and other workout machinery that's designed to generate power. That way, they can generate electricity to compensate for the fact that they took up more than their nessasery amount of the food supply.
I've got a cheapatopia post with a similar idea for convicts.
Get the new Dilbert app!
Old Dilbert Blog