Who Says Exercise Won’t Help You Lose Weight?

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
10/5/2010 10:11 AM   :  53 comments   :  16,557 Views

See More: fitness, news, obesity, cardio,
There are a number of factors that go into determining our size and shape. Although a significant portion is related to lifestyle choices, genetics also plays a part. You might have noticed that you tend to carry weight like your mother (or father), and that many of your family members have the same basic shape- although they may be different sizes based on their lifestyles and habits.

Of course your lifestyle choices have a huge impact on your health. But if you’re like me, at a certain point you recognized that you’re never going to be a size 0 supermodel because you’re just not built that way. But it’s not fair to blame your weight solely on your genes, and new research is analyzing the behaviors that can reduce the effect of genetics on weight loss.

The research, published in PLoS Medicine, studied 12 genetic variants that increase the risk of obesity, and also tracked the physical activity levels of over 20,000 participants. Researchers found that "physical activity can reduce the genetic tendency toward obesity by 40%."

The researchers also said that moderate activity for 30 minutes per day is a good start to reducing the effect of your genes on your size. So it’s not like you have to exercise for hours each day or run marathons in order to reap the benefits.

Last year, Time magazine ran a cover story titled "Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin." It drew a lot of controversy when it questioned the importance of physical activity if you’re trying to lose weight. Coach Dean wrote a very informative blog about this article and why it shouldn’t keep you from getting off of the couch and out the door to the gym.

What do you think? Do studies like this give you more resolve to change your habits and take control of your lifestyle choices?


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Comments

  • 53
    I work out for the good feeling it gives me. - 7/1/2011   6:43:35 PM
  • 52
    Walking raises the endophins and makes me feel good. I know it helps my heart and blood pressure and bones. When I'm outside I get the sunshine vitamin. If I lose weight that is just an added benefit. - 10/18/2010   10:23:05 AM
  • 51
    I know that changing my lifestyle to include exercise has made an immense contribution to my weight loss and eating habits.

    When I exercise regularly, which I have made a real priority in my day, I eat better and feel so much better, physically, mentally and emotionally.

    Don't really care that much about research, I care about results, and with exercise on a regular basis, I am getting great results!

    Can't fight that! - 10/8/2010   9:41:58 PM
  • HARDSILVER
    50
    I agree with _DangerM. Exercise may not make me thinner, but it molds me into the kind of thin I want to be - toned! Lovely! Ever heard the term skinny-fat? That's what happens when you diet w/o exercise. Icky. Exercise tightens everything up! - 10/8/2010   2:03:51 PM
  • 49
    I've learned not to blame anyone for my extra weight but me. My heavy eating habits and non exercising is what put me on this journey. I want to be healthy and fit and it takes working out and changing how much food we throw down our mouths. I love working out and now I'm injured so I can't do as much as I used to. I make sure I do upper body strength work and core work and the little walking I can do. I'm seeing changes and I will see more. Thanks for this blog! - 10/7/2010   6:35:45 PM
  • 48
    I can't say that I DISAGREE with the TIME article. I have found that when I exercise I usually lose less weight than when I only diet. Even when I'm watching my calories and track everything, it just doesn't make me drop the lbs.
    What I do notice is that my body changes. Somehow the fat redistributes, muscles pop up and I lose inches. Most of all I feel happier, I do a fun activity that I enjoy and it's really fun to be the chunky girl that runs faster than the skinny girls.
    - 10/7/2010   5:07:59 PM
  • PROPMAN1
    47
    Of course execise helps. It won't work if you don't watch food intake but losing without it is very, very difficult. - 10/7/2010   3:46:00 PM
  • JUDYFRANCE
    46
    All the women in my family are fat. I decided in January of 2009 to not pass on this family legacy to her. After I lost the weight, I decided it was now time to change my metabolism. I now exercise every day: I either go to the gym or run, but cardio is somewhere in my daily schedule. It IS possible to change your family's history. Nothing is written in the stars and we own our own destinies. I am living proof of that. - 10/7/2010   8:52:04 AM
  • 45
    This is so encouraging for me. I still haven't fully gottten into the exercise thing, haven't yet found my "groove", something that I really enjoy doing. I weigh considerably less than my mother did, at this age, and that is encouraging, but I would like to weigh about 30 lbs less than this! These blogs are good for reminding me what exercise can do for me................... - 10/6/2010   9:19:56 PM
  • 44
    Sounds like common sense to me. - 10/6/2010   4:55:00 PM
  • 43
    I'm going dancing 4 nights a week. I'm moving; not sitting on the couch AND I'm not eating from 5:30-11 pm those nights. That's got to make a difference. This is the first week. We'll see. Before that I've been swimming, walking and doing yoga and haven't seen a big difference in weight. - 10/6/2010   4:32:42 PM
  • 42
    "Physical activity can reduce the genetic tendency toward obesity by 40%." Those are incredible statistics! Information like that sure is motivating! - 10/6/2010   3:28:13 PM
  • 41
    I exercise to burn fat and get healthy. I'm built like my grandmother, so I know I will never be rail thin. I haven't lost a lot of weight, but then my clothes are looser, so I know I am losing fat.
    I think you need to exercise to keep the fat off. 30-60 minutes a day isn't so much that it is not doable. The multitude of articles that are out there doesn't motivate me like Spark does. - 10/6/2010   2:08:22 PM
  • 40
    Interesting Concepts.. - 10/6/2010   12:14:34 PM
  • 39
    As far as exercise and habits go -- no problem for me --- and has never been a problem - my problem habits revolve around not eating as healthy as I could and I shudder to think how much more I would weigh if exercise were not part of my daily habits. - 10/6/2010   10:39:10 AM
  • 38
    I used to have time and energy for 9 hours of step aerobics with calisthenics a week. I'd also weighed about 200 pounds, which was too much for me. My doctor loved my RHR of 54, but thought I needed reducing drugs.

    In fact my coordination, balance and sense of rhythm had been unsurpassed ... never to be seen again.

    But few people can dance off 4,000 calories a day ... - 10/6/2010   10:10:42 AM
  • 37
    Great comments!
    You WILL be healthier if you exercise. Our society is too hung up on "thin"!
    Want to manage stress, be in a good mood, feel good about yourself, have your clothes fit better, live longer.... exercise

    As far as weight goes, it's often just basic math - if calories out exceeds calories in, you will eventually lose weight.

    Exercise - Please - 10/6/2010   6:46:03 AM
  • 36
    Hmmm, another article on the benefits of exercise. I think we get it. Get off your behind and move. - 10/6/2010   6:08:54 AM
  • TWOOFTHREE
    35
    I workout to build muscle, not to lose weight. If it was about weightloss then I'd do more than the 10 minutes of cardio I do each day.

    2/3 - 10/6/2010   5:29:47 AM
  • SPARKLIT
    34
    I started exercising for the first time in my life last year. After exercising 90 mins / 5 times a week [cardio/strength] and eating within 1500 cals of a lowcal/lowfat diet....put one 1kg !!!! Perhaps muscle weight . But then only 1kg of muscle weight.
    On the 1st of august this year I decided to keepup the exercising for other reasons than weight loss ,and went on a low carb/high fat diet and have already lost 5kgs.
    I am the same person.....and this is what works for me. I think its more important to exercise for other parameters rather than for weight loss.
    BTW no matter what he says about exercise Gary Taubes rocks!!!! - 10/6/2010   5:07:57 AM
  • ELAINEATHOME
    33
    For me it has to be a combination of both - and it still takes a while!
    If I cut down on the calories and eat healthily then nothing happens after the first 8 Ibs or so (unless I completely starve myself of course!) and I guess this is because my metabolism slows down. If I just exercise and don't watch what I eat then again nothing happens so I guess my body is very efficient at conserving all those excess calories. (I do eat healthy foods most of the time as I love fruit, but I can easily go over my calories by emotionally eating loads of this)
    It is only when I do both together - cut down on the calories and exercise quite a bit that I can shift the weight. This has worked in the past and will hopefully work now as dieting alone has failed to shift the weight I've gained due to two pregnancies and a knee injury - I guess I just need to make the time to exercise and this is the difficult bit now that I've got children. - 10/6/2010   4:56:13 AM
  • 32
    I respect the views of those who haven't lost weight w/ exercise, but given the state of most people in this country I think it was nearly irresponsible for Time to publish that article. Most people can benefit in some way from exercising. - 10/6/2010   2:00:05 AM
  • 31
    I believe it MUST be coupled with a healthy diet, but I'm fully convinced I would NOT be where I am today without exercise - energy-wise, weight-wise, health-wise, fitness-wise. Also, for me, I have a much easier time controlling my diet while exercising than when I'm not exercising (maybe due to the endorphins from the exercise????). - 10/6/2010   1:20:31 AM
  • MMM225
    30
    You may never be a size 0 according to genetics, but not being a size 24 is up to you. - 10/6/2010   1:17:03 AM
  • 29
    Exercise is one of the ultimate anti-aging strategies! - 10/6/2010   1:13:36 AM
  • QTOWERS1
    28
    I feel that exercise helps you to lose weight faster but of course if you still eat poorly it will still take you longer to lose weight.I am focusing a bit more on my food choices more than I have in the past because I feel that focusing on both will help to keep the weight off.I am determoned to end my yo yo dieting.I really love this website because it really helps to know that you are not alone in this struggle. - 10/5/2010   11:41:38 PM
  • 27
    Exercise won't help one lose weight if one's nutrition is not in order. One can't exercise away bad dietary habits.

    However, it will help with lean body mass, cardiovascular fitness, flexibility and mood... Besides, it's a lot of fun! - 10/5/2010   9:53:05 PM
  • 26
    I have lost lots of weight in my life with no exercise, yet I have had a slow time losing it with exercise. So, I don't think that exercise helps you necessarily lose weight. With that said, I have been spinning for a year & recently became a runner. I do ST regularly & am committed to fitness, not to lose weight, but rather to help me feel fit, healthy, strong & happy....If weight comes off in the process, then I have even more to be thankful for... - 10/5/2010   9:17:29 PM
  • 25
    Sometimes, I think we all have to find the pressure point to continue - 10/5/2010   8:54:01 PM
  • 24
    Exercise won't make you thin, but that doesn't mean the article in Time wasn't of use.

    URBANMOMMY will tell u that she found that 80% of her success was from DIET and not exercise. - 10/5/2010   6:38:28 PM
  • 23
    I think there is truth and fiction to that. I know that if you exercise you might not loose as much weight but if you think about it it is probably that you are gaining muscle. Exercising does help me because sitting your butt on the couch is not going to make that weight come off. There has to be at least some activity to burn off the fat. It doesn't matter how well you eat. - 10/5/2010   5:06:25 PM
  • MUSLIMAH_AK
    22
    I've ate well and not exercises, I've exercised and not aten well. and for me, it really does go hand in hand. - 10/5/2010   4:29:56 PM
  • 21
    I think you can't lose weight from exercise alone. I know plenty of people who binge and then think they can work it off by going to the gym. If you eat 3500 calories a day, and then burn 1000 calories at the gym, you're still not going to lose weight -- you may even gain weight. A combination of a controlled diet WITH exercise is key. - 10/5/2010   4:16:02 PM
  • 20
    When I exercise I feel like I have done something really good for myself, and it then gives me the motivation to take care of myself in other areas - like making sure the food I eat is healthy and delicious. I may never be model thin, but that is a good thing because imho regular women are much more attractive than any supermodel I've ever seen! Regular women rock! - 10/5/2010   4:05:01 PM
  • 19
    When I exercise I feel better and I am more aware of what I am putting into my body. I think running marathons or walking them is an end result of exercising. For me, I like how much better I feel after a good brisk walk. - 10/5/2010   3:54:23 PM
  • 18
    I used every excuse in the book for my weight problem. But it boils down to the fact I was never really active as a child nor as an adult. Now not only am I fighting obesity but also diabetis. Exercise may not make you super model thin, but with a healthy diet it can do wonders. Start young and you will not have to work so hard on it when your older. - 10/5/2010   3:26:55 PM
  • 17
    Years ago there was a book out about set point. When we gain weight, the highest weight we reach becomes our new set point and our body will always strive to get back to that weight. The author taught us that EXERCISE is vital to lower that set point. I believe that we need exercise to lose weight and keep it off. I think what Time meant to say is that exercise alone will not help you lose weight. You need to increase your activity and cut back on calories. You can't read just a title. They write controversial, shocking titles to get you to pick up the magazine and read. - 10/5/2010   3:23:11 PM
  • 16
    My father is tall and thin just like his mother. His father was tall and thick. My mother was shorter and she had weight problems. Her mother was short and not really over weight. She walked everywhere because she didn't know how to drive. I was always told I took after my father, well I guess they were wrong. I realize why my dad is so thin and healthy, he eats a well balanced diet and he is very active. He used to ride bikes with us all the time. Ever since I got married I put on weight and now that I am separated and getting ready for a divorce I have changed myself mentally and physically by doing what I have always loved doing and that is exercising and eating right with a few "treats" thrown in for fun. - 10/5/2010   3:14:52 PM
  • 15
    I can only share from my experience and that experience has been that eating healthier and exercise are the ways to go. When I exercise I feel emotionally better. I can make better decisions about what I'm going to eat. When I do indulge I can use exercise to work it off. I quit smoking about a month ago and spent the past two weeks living my sedentary husband's life style including eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. End result, I put on almost ten pounds. I started eating better and exercising again and in two days I'm down over three pounds. And I feel more emotionally balanced. I don't care what the study says, for me exercise and healthy eating habits are the way to go! - 10/5/2010   1:37:08 PM
  • OUTOFCONTROL
    14
    I think "exercise may prevent obesity" is entirely different than "exercise can make you thin." - 10/5/2010   1:35:52 PM
  • 13
    Losing weight should not be the ONLY reason we work out. These kinds of studies are interesting, but not things that cause me to change my exercise practices. - 10/5/2010   1:22:15 PM
  • 12
    In answer to the question, does studies like this give me more resolve to change, most likely not. First off I wonder how much money could have been saved if you didn't put it into studies that provide statistics on common sense knowledge. Secondly, because it already is common sense knowledge, exercise would natrually be part of a weight-loss plan. My resolve comes from my need to be healthy for myself and my family, and from the support I get from a wonderful site like Sparks! - 10/5/2010   1:12:54 PM
  • 11
    I do think our society wrongly puts a lot of emphasis on exercise for weight loss. I used to think that way too. Now, I know from experience food is 85% of the weight loss equation and exercise is at most 15%. BUT, I think exercise is absolutely vital to our overall health. So, I do it religiously and plan on continuing for the rest of my life. - 10/5/2010   12:28:56 PM
  • 10
    I can only speak for myself but even before this study was published or I read anything on this subject I noticed that I lost 2 pounds a week on the weeks I didn't exercise and maybe half a pound at best on the weeks I did exercise. - 10/5/2010   12:26:12 PM
  • 9
    There's a tendency to overweight from both sides of my family. I've never let my weight get completely out of hand, but now that I'm 60+ I'm really conscientious about keeping it within the standard healthy range for my height and age. - 10/5/2010   12:25:43 PM
  • 8
    I don't exercise to lose weight. I exercise for other physical benefits (I just plain feel better when I'm active) and for the emotional benefits and for the health of my heart. I have to remember that I do not need to exercise every day for an hour or more to reap the benefits. - 10/5/2010   12:06:24 PM
  • 7
    I do agree with the article. I am working out because of my family genes. I come from an over weight family and I don't want to be over weight too. I can see where working out has done me good. But I must admit no matter what I do I still I have the tummy like my family. I have done everything to work it off but no luck. - 10/5/2010   12:05:42 PM
  • 6
    I read it and I think that the article made some really good points. I think what they are saying is exercise is still very important but you don't have to kill yourself doing it. Moving your body can help you lose weight but not the vigorous work yourself to death can't even lift your head or a finger after ward's kind of exercise. I think it's just like with anything else, too much of a good thing can be bad! So whether exercise helps to lose weight or not, it is still good for you but just don't over do it and watch what you eat. - 10/5/2010   11:40:51 AM
  • MARGOMCP
    5
    I think just about any interest and other focus can help us lose weight, just like just about anything positive can help self esteem. But I think the goal of exercise should be/remain body (mind being part of "body") health, not weight loss. Exercising primarily for weight loss cheapens exercise and makes it just a subservient tool instead of an important entity in its own right. After the weight is lost, the goal is on maintenance diet but I think that people who have used exercise to lose weight often slack on the exercise when they get to their goal weight and the exercise needs to be maintained too, for its own benefits. - 10/5/2010   11:21:15 AM
  • 4
    I admit, I like studies that agree with what my experience has shown me to be true (at least for me) and tend to distrust ones that seem to run counter to common sense (again-my version of it). So I find this one pleasantly plausible; I do lose faster when I'm active, and I'm also less hungry (mostly because my blood isn't sitting around in my fundament waiting to be fed).

    Since "health" is more complicated than just 'losing weight,' even if exercise were determined to not have any effect on getting thinner, it would still be an important part of the health equation. - 10/5/2010   10:59:29 AM

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