We can't work it out

We all know exercise helps you lose weight. But does it? There is almost no scientific evidence to support the orthodoxy. Indeed, it could even do the exact opposite...

Let us begin with a short quiz: a few questions to ponder during the 30 (or 60 or 90) minutes a day you spend burning off excess calories at the gym, or perhaps while feeling guilty because you're not so engaged. If lean people are more physically active than fat people - one fact in the often-murky science of weight control that's been established beyond reasonable doubt - does that mean that working out will make a fat person lean? Does it mean that sitting around will make a lean person fat? How about a mathematical variation on these questions?

Let's say we go to the gym and burn off 3,500 calories every week - that's 700 calories a session, five times a week. Since a pound of fat is equivalent to 3,500 calories, does that mean we'll be a pound slimmer for every week we exercise? And will we continue to slim down at this pace for as long as we continue to exercise?

For most of us, fear of flab is the reason we exercise, the motivation that drives us to the gym. It's also why public-health authorities have taken to encouraging ever more exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle. If we're fat or fatter than ideal, we work out. Burn calories. Expend energy. Still fat? Burn more. The dietary guidelines of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), for instance, now recommend we engage in up to 60 minutes daily of 'moderate to vigorous intensity' physical activity just to maintain weight - that is, keep us from fattening further.

Considering the ubiquity of the message, the hold it has on our lives, and the elegant simplicity of the notion - burn calories, lose weight - wouldn't it be nice to believe it were true? The catch is that science suggests it's not, and so the answer to all of the above quiz questions is 'no'.

Source - Guardian

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