By Wayne Miller, Ph.D.
much weight will I lose through this twenty-week exercise program? Maybe
six or seven pounds. How fast will I lose the weight? Oh, a pound or so
a month. Are you sure about this? Not really. Individualized
weight-loss predictions in response to exercise interventions are pretty
inaccurate. What type of exercise will burn the most fat? Weíre not
too sure, but probably low-intensity aerobic exercise. If my exercise
prescription is geared toward fat metabolism, will that translate into
greater weight loss? Canít really say. If I add exercise to my very
restricted diet, will I lose weight faster? Probably not. Will exercise
training have a significant impact on my resting metabolic rate? It may
be a small effect, but we canít be sure. Will exercise training
increase my lean body mass? Lean body mass can be maintained or slightly
increased through exercise, but probably not enough to affect your
overall metabolism. Will exercise help me maintain my newly reduced body
weight? Most likely, but only when the exercise behavior is maintained.
Should I invest all this time, money, and effort into
months of exercise training to lose weight when I canít be sure how
it will affect my weight? I wouldnít if I were you.
Instead, I would make an investment in something I can clearly foresee
the benefits of.
Will this new exercise program reduce my blood
pressure? Yes. Will the exercise reduce my resting heart rate? Most
likely. Will it improve my cholesterol levels? Yes. Will it improve my
blood triglycerides? Yes, with the help of a healthy diet. Will exercise
reduce my risk of cardiovascular disease? Yes. Will an exercise program
get my blood glucose under control? It will at least help, if not
eliminate your glucose problems altogether. Will it reduce my risk for
developing diabetes? Yes. Will exercise reduce my risk or symptoms
associated with the other chronic diseases such as certain types of
cancers, bone and joint problems, or muscle function? Yes. Will exercise
training enhance my quality of life? Yes. Will exercise reduce my risk
for early mortality? Yes.
What if I exercise and donít lose much weight? Can I
still expect these other benefits? Certainly, as long as you maintain
your exercise program.
Bottom line: the health benefits of exercise are quite
clear . . . whereas the weight-loss benefits of exercise are not. Where
are you going to place your bets? ©
(This piece first appeared in Healthy Weight
Journal, July/August 1999.)
WAYNE C. MILLER, Ph.D., is a professor of exercise
science and nutrition at George Washington University Medical Center, as
well as their director for the Healthy Weight Management programs. He
speaks at health-related conferences nationwide. His e-mail is email@example.com.
Books and Resources That Promote Physical
Activity for Enjoyment and Health, Rather Than
Shape: The First Fitness Guide for Large Women
Pat Lyons, R.N., M.A., and Debby Burgard,
Ph.D., available at www.iuniverse.com
Moves: How to Cure, Relieve, and Prevent Common Ailments with
Carol Krucoff and Mitchell Krucoff, M.D.,
Harmony Books, 2000
Drink, and Be Merry
Dean Edell, M.D., HarperCollins, 1999
Glenn Gaesser, Ph.D., 1996, available at www.gurze.com
Melpomene Institute, Human Kinetics Press,
Helpful Web Sites:
and of course,
Compiled by Pat Lyons, R.N., M.A., director,
Connections: Womenís Health Consulting, author, and
size-acceptance speaker. Pat lives and works in Oakland, California.
this is only a taste of what's inside the printed version of the