Weight Loss, Dieting & Obesity
© Copyright 2004 - 2011 , Trevor Johnson.
Is Exercise the Answer for Weight Loss and Obesity? - Part One
I've never met, or even heard of anyone who has succeeded at meaningful weight loss by exercise alone (unless they've had a disease of some kind).
The truth be told, a meaningfully fuel-burning (calorie burning) weight loss exercise program is probably impossible as a stand-alone treatment. To be able to handle the physical pressures of exercise, a sensible diet is necessary. The overweight human body cannot efficiently exert itself when loaded with inappropriate nutrition.
Accordingly, just like diet, weight loss exercise should be seen as only one part of the answer for weight loss and obesity.
The even more important point, though, is that if exercising is being done for the specific purpose of weight loss, any success is likely to be short lived. Exercise assists the metabolism by burning calories, increasing blood oxygen levels and acting as an appetite suppressant. If you exercise for the sole purpose of weight loss, after you have reached your weight loss goal you'll almost certainly stop exercising. Your appetite then returns, your calorie burning rate drops and your weight gradually rises once again.
This brings us back to a theme that is repeated many times throughout this web site. Exercise should not be seen as a "weight loss" tool. For long term success, your emphasis must be on long term, even life long, habit change for the purpose of enhancing and maintaining health in every sense of the word.
Certainly jogging 5 miles twice a day (for example) will assist you to lose weight, but can you really picture yourself doing that even after you've lost your excess weight? Will you still be doing it a year from now, or five years from now, or ten years now? Probably not.
I am not opposed to doing periods of extra physical exercise. My concern is probably definitional. Let's draw a line in the sand:
As distinct from (though not opposed to) exercise, what is necessary for life long habit changing and successful permanent weight loss is physical exertion.
It is all of the "little" things you do that burn up a few extra calories here, a few extra calories there, behavior modification that you can develop into permanent habits.
Let's face it. Modern civilisation has found thousands of innovative technologies to reduce personal effort and energy expenditure (physical exertion), as compared to one hundred years ago, or even just a generation ago. Today, our health and our weight depends on us finding ways of incorporating lost physical activity back into our lives as part of our maintainable lifestyle.
No-one really wants to return to the days of washing clothes on scrubbing boards, or carting water in large jugs from the local river, but when we have replaced kids playing hop-skip-jump in the backyard with the PlayStation set, and now buy our groceries online with home delivery instead of walking to the local supermarket with our trolley (or even the physical activity of growing our own vegetables in the garden), clearly there is much we can do.
A few quick examples include:
I'm sure that you can look at your own lifestyle and habits and create a much longer list than this that applies specifically to you. Treat that as your homework for tonight. Write yourself a list of twenty five changes that you can make to your lifestyle - maybe gradually rather than all at once - that will incrementally raise your daily levels of habitual physical exertion.
In Part Two of this article, we will look at some important considerations and tips for also incorporating "conventional" exercise into your weight loss efforts, in addition to the lifestyle changes to increase physical exertion we have discussed in this first part.
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