When I first talked to my doctor about my fitness and weight-loss goal, I began by describing my exercise plan. He responded by saying “There aren’t enough hours in the day to exercise off the pounds you need to lose.”
Although his statement was blunt, a recently reported study of 34,000 women supports its accuracy. Researchers found that women who are middle-aged or older need an hour of exercise a day just to avoid gaining weight. These regularly exercising women did not, however, limit their calories in any way. What I concluded from the study (and what’s consistent with my own experience) is that even 420 minutes of exercise a week is not enough to shed pounds. Calories must also be reduced.
Notice that I said reduced calories, not less food. By choosing foods that are high in volume and nutritionally sound, women can lose weight even while increasing the amount of food eaten. For ideas on how to achieve this, you might want to check out Dr. Howard Shapiro’s book Picture Perfect Weight Loss. I’ve used his book in my fitness classes because the pictures of food dramatically demonstrate how much a person can eat and still lose weight―if the food choices are high in volume and nutrition. You can get an idea of what I am talking about at http://pictureperfectweightloss.com/demo.htm.
Exercise has wonderful benefits: our bodies were designed to move. With regular exercise, we have more energy, we sleep better, our bones and muscles are stronger, our skin and overall appearance improve, our balance and flexibility are enhanced, we are sharper mentally, we make better decisions, and our heart and other organs perform better. Exercise definitely has an essential role to play in helping us achieve fitness. But bottom line, to achieve weight loss, we must combine exercise with healthful eating.
Photo courtesy of Ove Tøpfer