TIME magazine article “Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin” reports interesting statistics showing that most people who exercise end up eating more, and eating worse. Not only these people don’t lose any weight, they often end up gaining weight.
After we exercise, we often crave sugary calories like those in muffins or ‘sports’ drinks. A bottle of Gatorade contains 130 calories. So if you drink one of those after a 20-minute run it neutralizes the calories burned. A blueberry muffin contains about 360 calories, and the illustration below shows what it takes to burn that many calories: over an hour of cycling, over half hour of jogging, and hour and a half of vacuuming are a few.
However, the article also lists many benefits of exercising including enhanced health and prevention of disease. And then goes on to suggest that exercise doesn’t have to be ‘sweaty, exhausting, hunger-producing bursts of activities’.
Though the article resulted in a lot of criticism and debate over many sites, it has reinforced my views about exercising and diet, which I can summarize as:
- Regular exercise is important. Choose an activity that you really enjoy and can incorporate in your daily/weekly routine. For me, it’s walking every night and swimming a couple of times a week.
- Outdoors is better than indoors. Unless the temperature is melting hot or freezing below zero, I find outdoor activities better than any gym.
- Regular movement when you are not ‘exercising’. Talking the stairs instead of the elevators, parking a bit further from the destination, taking few minutes to stretch every few hours on the desk… are all small things that can make big difference.
- Diet is the key. Developing healthy eating habits are more important and effective than any ‘diets’. Any weight loss program starts with controlling what we eat, then supplementing it with appropriate exercise.