While the logical conclusion would be that more exercise leads to more weight loss, experts are now arguing otherwise. A study published in Current Biology states that we instead should place a bigger focus on what we eat, as this is more beneficial to losing weight or preventing weight gain. They suggest that there is a fine line between too little and too much exercise; not enough will leave you unhealthy and in bad shape, but too much can force your body to adapt to the strains being put on it, reducing the amount of calories burned during a workout.
These findings came from a study of 332 adults originating from five different countries in both Africa and North America. Their daily energy expenditure and levels of activity were measured throughout one week. It was discovered that being physically active only made a slight difference to a person’s energy expenditure each day if they were only moderately active, burning nearly two hundred calories more than someone who is inactive. On the other hand, those who did more physical activity were left with no evidence of energy expenditure, revealing that doing more will not lead to losing weight. But for the amount of work put in by moderate exercisers to burn off up to two hundred calories, which is roughly the amount in one boiled egg, is it really worth it?
Currently, the World Health Organisation suggests that adults should partake in one hundred and fifty minutes of physical activity a week. However as the study reveals the complexities of physical activity and its potential to lead to weight loss, the authors of the report have called for an amendment of this figure based on their findings. However this in no way means that you should stop exercising, as despite not having a major impact on calorie burning, there are many crucial benefits to exercise that help to ensure a healthy physical and mental state. Amongst other diseases, it allows us to reduce the risk of major illness, including cancer, coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Exercise has also been found to play a major role in mental wellbeing, lowering both depression and anxiety rates.
While some doctors are in agreement with this study, arguing that weight loss is entirely down to the food choices we make, others are worried about the potential negative repercussions such evidence could bring about. Dr. Frankie Phillips of the British Dietetic Association is apprehensive of this message, as she believes that most people do not even achieve moderate levels of exercise, and such findings have the possibility of discouraging people from participating in physical activities.
But for those of you trying to improve your physique, physical exercise can help, not by losing you weight, but by toning the body. It is therefore important to make the food you consume more nutritious – if you like to treat yourself to a snack post-gym, think again!