By Matt Stone
Never EVER exercise to lose weight. Seriously. Exercise is too good for you and too potent as a weight loss tool to do it for weight loss. Plus, if you exercise to lose weight, you’ll probably get really chubby.
Confused? Ready to yell at me and start dropping links to a bunch of studies that show exercise helps for weight loss? Send me some pics of Olympic athletes shirtless?
This is the kind of comprehensive, “unscientific” thought that makes this website superior to others. The 80’s references are just icing on the cake. I understand that exercise can make a person quite lean. I’ve seen many dozens of studies that show that exercise can contribute to superior body composition with few exceptions. I watched American Ninja Warrior last night and saw a bunch of ripped people who spend most of their free time exercising like maniacs. Didn’t make them chubby. Exercise has even been found to be one of the primary common denominators in those who have registered as having lost a ton of weight and kept it off for years at the weight control registry. So how could I say such a thing?
Because purely “scientific” findings ignore a person’s physiological and psychological reaction to various interventions. We are not mechanical cogs that operate by simple input and output. We’re not a bunch of Johnny 5’s. Who’s Johnny you ask? To answer this pressing question, I turn to El Debarge…
So here are the two simple reasons never to exercise to lose weight…
- Because You Will Enjoy Exercise Less. When you exercise specifically to lose weight, it’s highly likely that you will start to resent exercise. When something is a means to an end, it becomes “work” more or less, and work is not fun. When no one is forcing you to do it, you are not likely to keep up with it, which is unfortunate because exercise has many health benefits. For most people, repeated bouts of exercise lead to increased sedentarism long-term, especially for those who don’t lose weight when they exercise. And that will likely lead to weight gain, not weight loss.
- Because It Won’t Work and Might Make You Fatter. For most people, exercise won’t induce any noticeable weight loss unless it is done in enormous quantities or at grueling intensity. To use exercise as a weight loss tool, most will have to do an amount of it that is just not sustainable due to work or family obligations, overuse injury, or just plain burnout. The end result is becoming fatter, not thinner, than you were if you had never tried to use exercise as a weight loss tool in the first place. For me personally, exercise excess has always led to increased fatness when taking the REACTION to excess exercise into consideration. And the reaction should be, but often isn’t, taken into consideration by those performing exercise research, weight loss research, or advocating physical fitness.
Exercise is great. It’s probably the single best quality of life enhancer, especially for older people, of any health practice. Do it for fun. Do it because a day that includes a hike, a swim, some hoops, some Frisbee, or some weightlifting is always better than a day of complete and total couch surfing. Do it to master new skills. Do it so you can walk up a flight of stairs without gasping for air. Do it so you can play sports and have fun. Do it, ultimately, because it makes your life better and fuller. You will do a lot more of it if it’s recreational. No motivation required.
Do it as a necessary evil to shed a few pounds and you will likely fail miserably, and have trouble getting up from the crapper a decade or two earlier than you should.
If you really insist on doing it specifically for weight loss, that’s okay I guess. Just another reason to wear stretchy pants, and as far as I’m concerned, there can’t be enough reasons to wear stretchy pants.