New Study Says Exercise May Not Lead to Weight Loss
Well, crap. Turns out the thousands of hours I’ve spent in the gym may have been useless — at least for dropping a few pounds. According to the New York Times, a study published online in September in The British Journal of Sports Medicine found that exercising doesn’t necessarily result in losing weight. In the study, 58 obese people completed 12 weeks of supervised aerobic training without changing their diets. The group lost an average of a little more than seven pounds, and many lost barely half that. And it’s not just this one study — Time published similar findings in August.
“Walking, even at a very easy pace, you’ll probably burn three or four calories a minute,” beyond what you would use quietly sitting in a chair, said Dan Carey, Ph.D., an assistant professor of exercise physiology at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, who studies exercise and metabolism. But few people, an overwhelming body of research shows, achieve significant weight loss with exercise alone, not without changing their eating habits too. Okay, that’s not a huge shock. We all know that eating a box of donuts won’t get canceled out by a little treadmill time. But if you keep your diet exactly the same and add physical activity, it might not help? That’s a serious bummer.
Additionally, the idea that exercising might boost your metabolism and make you burn more calories throughout the day is a myth. “Many people believe that you rev up” your metabolism after an exercise session “so that you burn additional body fat throughout the day,” said Edward Melanson, Ph.D., an associate professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. But none of the members of his study experienced “afterburn.”
Of course, exercise is still good for reducing blood pressure and resting heart rate, and for endorphins…but let’s be honest. We want to SEE the results on our bodies. So I guess I’d better not see any more cookies in my kitchen…