Do I Need to Exercise?

You should definitely be doing things to move your body but you don’t have to spend hours and hours in a gym every week with fancy equipment and push yourself to exhaustion to see benefits and lose weight.

Do I Need to Exercise?
Photo by Humphrey Muleba / Unsplash

Yes and no. How’s that for helpful. ;) Seriously though, exercise is good for our bodies to a certain extent. It helps get that blood flowing, it improves our muscle tone, it can help manage stress, and other scientific/medical things like lowering insulin, releasing fatty acids, etc. So you should definitely be doing things to move your body - go for a walk, do some resistance exercises like push ups, sit ups, or chin ups, lift some weights if you like…but you don’t have to spend hours and hours in a gym every week with fancy equipment and push yourself to exhaustion to see benefits and lose weight. In fact, that will do you more harm than good.

We have seen an explosion in fitness options in the last 30-40 years or so but if you look at statistics you’ll find that even though people are obsessed with gyms and exercise, our weight isn’t decreasing. Obesity is still rising. That’s because exercise isn’t what makes you lose weight - your diet is what allows you to lose weight. There is a LOT of money to be made in this industry because we have believed the lie that you just need to eat less and exercise more. That. Is. Not. True. Our weight is controlled by our hormones, not by how many calories we eat (or don’t eat) and how many times a week we work out.

Exercise has many health benefits, but weight control is not one of them. Yes, if you move more you will burn more calories—great. But you will also increase your appetite.

- Ivor Cummins, Eat Rich, Live Long

Take a look at how things were for our ancestors. They didn’t have gyms to go to with all the fancy cardio machines and weight lifting machines. They didn’t say they had to get their workout in every day. They just lived their lives and were active. But the biggest difference is they didn’t have all the low-fat, high-carb, processed foods on the shelves and they ate a diet of whole foods that were naturally low in carbs and high in fat.

And they were slim and healthy.

Diabetes is correlated with obesity and if we look at the diabetes rates in the early 1900s they were about 3 in 100,000. Today they’re 1 in TEN!! If that’s not enough to show you we have a problem with the way we’re doing things, I don’t know what is. We need to get back to how our ancestors ate!

So to get back to the question at hand, when you exercise, you’re burning more calories and causing your body to need more fuel. But most people try to cut back on the fuel they give their body when they’re trying to lose weight (because of the calories in, calories out mantra we’ve been fed) so it sends you in a downward spiral of starvation and unsustainable weight loss methods. If you do manage to lose weight by doing this, you will end up gaining it back PLUS more. Studies have been done on this and it’s somewhere in the range of 90-95% of people who lose some weight only to gain it back and end up heavier than they were before. That’s a pretty significant fail rate. That’s because that’s not how our body works and it’s not sustainable long-term.

The thing that IS sustainable and long-term is changing your diet. You can choose to put healthier food into your body and you’ll see results on the scale and with the way your clothes fit without killing yourself at the gym.

So as we move into this new year and you’re making your resolutions, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to join an expensive gym or buy expensive equipment for your home so that you can spend hours and hours every week working your body hard and trying to lose that extra weight. Instead, go for a walk in a park, go for a hike in the mountains, go outside and play with your kids, or do some resistance training in your home. Those are all great for you and healthy. But instead of focusing on exercise to lose weight, focus on eating the proper foods and eliminating the food that causes major health issues in your body. Your health will thank you.

Check out the resources page to find books to read or click any link in this post to take you to more details about those topics. :)