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Obesity Myth: Exercise is the Best Way to Lose Weight

sharma-obesity-exercise2Here is what we had to say about the role of exercise in weight management in our recent article published in Canadian Family Physician:

There is now a consistent body of evidence showing that exercise alone, despite a range of health benefits associated with regular exercise, results in rather modest weight loss (less than 2 kg on average).

One of the explanations is that exercise is often accompanied by an increase in sedentary activities and appetite and a decrease in dietary restraint that counteract the increased energy expenditure of exercise.

However, increased exercise has been shown to reduce visceral adiposity (even with minimal changes in body weight).

Individuals who include regular exercise and active living as part of a weight-loss program are more likely to improve their overall health and keep the weight off.22 This latter finding might be attributable to the effect of regular exercise on caloric intake rather than on caloric expenditure per se.

Exercise alone generally promotes modest weight loss; however, individuals who exercise regularly might improve their overall health independent of weight loss and are more likely to keep their weight off.

Wellington, NZ


  1. So you’re saying people who start exercising become more sedentary the rest of the time?

    In paragraph 3, you state that exercise is often accompanied by an increase in appetite and decrease in dietary restraint. In paragraph 5, you state that exercise helps keep the weight off by affecting caloric intake (reducing it, presumably). I’m a little confused. Does exercise tend to increase caloric intake or reduce it?

    You’re overall statement that exercise by itself does not usually result in a large weight loss is familiar to me — I’ve heard that many times before. I’m just trying to understand your explanation of why that is.

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  2. I find it encouraging each time i read stories about human bodies that refuse and resist strategic control practices aimed at alterations of size. Our minds may be enslaved and seemingly oblivious, but at least our bodies still put up a fight against domination. The fact that bodies take a stand, and basically refuse to be coerced suggests there is hope left for our humanity. If you look at studies on dopamine/leptin and stress (a major form—social oppression), you may notice complex relationshp between increased /decreased dopamine/leptin in relation to stress.Our lifeworlds grow ever madder, _with increasing ill health, and we blame our selves. Yet our bodies may be showing us the way out—for even under forced labor, and threat of pain , our bodies resist and refuse to comply. These bodies could perhaps reveal ways we can refocus energy into emancipatory actions rather than reifying weightloss as anything more than readjustment of and manipulation of one’s social status and privilege. If weight loss were seen anything more than a dud, typically, the circus would be all over a story of the

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  3. Oops.. Never mind. I stopped mid sentence, above, and realized the pointlessness of my comment… 🙂

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