I’m already on a diet… Does that mean I still have to exercise as well?
A common question I get from patients is if exercise or increased physical activity is really necessary in the whole process of healthy living. Without hesitation the answer is always: YES!
Many people see exercise as an uncomfortable experience that requires a lot of physical exertion which makes the whole concept unappealing.
The way I see it is that if you are going to put in the minimal effort, you are going to reap minimal benefits. To get somewhere you have never been, you will have to do something you’ve never done.
Exercise is important in so many aspects of the weight loss journey, today I am going to highlight five reasons as to how exercise will guarantee successful weight loss
REASON NUMBER 1: INCREASED PHYSICAL ACTIVITY MEANS YOU ARE EXPENDING MORE ENERGY
Weight loss generally works on the key principle that if we use more energy than what we take in, we will lose weight. Now remember, food (particularly carbohydrates and fat) serves as fuel that our body uses to create energy so that it can carry out its’ everyday tasks. By eating and energy-controlled diet you are solely limiting your calorie (or energy intake) to prevent further excess energy from being stored as fat. If you combine this with exercise, the whole weight loss journey will be accelerated. Now, instead of only limiting your energy intake, you are making absolutely sure that there is no extra energy left that can be stored as fat.
REASON NUMBER 2: DOING REGULAR EXERCISE AIDS IN INCREASING YOUR MUSCLE MASS
Muscle mass is substantially more metabolically active than fat mass. This means that your body uses more energy to sustain muscle than it does fat, even when your body is at rest!
Increasing muscle mass is not only for body builders! By increasing your muscle mass, not only are you toning your body, but you are actually aiding in increasing the rate of your metabolism.
REASON NUMBER 3: EXERCISE HELPS NORMALISING BLOOD SUGAR AND INSULIN EFFICACY
Blood sugar control is one of the key elements in managing one’s weight as elevated blood sugars can result in hormonal disturbances particularly a rise in insulin. Insulin is supposed to be the key that allows sugar to be transported from the blood and into body cells where it is used to make energy. When the insulin does not work effectively, our blood sugars remain high. This means that our body keeps making more insulin. The problem with this is that insulin is a hormone that also promotes fat storage in our body. Elevated insulin levels can also interfere with the functioning of other hormones which can again make our body more prone to store fat.
Exercise requires energy and blood sugar is one of the key fuel sources. When exercising we force the insulin to work more effectively so that the body can keep up with the increase in the demand of energy. Exercise therefore helps our bodies to use fuel sources more effectively, stabilise blood sugar and promote maintenance of a healthy weight.
REASON NUMBER 4: EXERCISE AIDS IN STRESS RELIEF
Stress management is one of the key components in losing weight. Studies have shown that an increase in stress can lead to us to make poor lifestyle choices. Stress results in the release of the hormone, cortisol which causes our bodies to store fat rather than use it as energy. This makes us more prone to weight gain. Cortisol also interferes with regular blood sugar control and this again shifts our body into a state where it stores fat rather than using it.
Exercise is one of the key factors in managing stress. It helps us to shift our focus from our daily worries and can help to increase self-esteem, both of which are important in combating stress.
Exercise also results in the release of endorphins which are feel-good happy hormones which can help in alleviating anxiety and uneasiness.
REASON NUMBER 5: EXERCISE AIDS IN IMPROVED SLEEP PATTERNS
Inadequate or poor-quality sleep can make weight loss substantially more difficult.
Poor sleep results in the release of the hormone cortisol, which makes us more prone to gain weight. Those sleepless nights can also make us more vulnerable to negative emotions like stress, anxiety and despair. Remember that these emotions also lead to the release of cortisol and will result in a shift to our bodies storing more fat.
Inadequate sleep makes us less prepared to deal with the day as studies show that we are less capable of making optimal life decisions when we are sleep deprived. This (amplified by the feelings of stress) makes us more prone to unhealthy eating habits.
Studies have shown that people that get enough, good quality sleep every night, are more likely to lose weight than those that have poor sleeping patterns. Incorporating a good night’s rest into your daily routine can help your mind to be fresh and ready to tackle your daily activities without leading astray, regulate hormone levels and deal with stress without reverting to unhealthy behaviours.
Research has shown that doing exercise helps to reduce rapid eye movement sleep (this is the stage of sleeping where your dream the most), thus ensuring a peaceful night’s rest. Physical activity also ensures a peaceful night’s rest by reducing stress.
Consequently, exercise is an integral component of any healthy lifestyle. It may seem like an uphill battle but studies show that starting with even a ten minute increase in daily physical activity may already provide some of the aforementioned benefits. Remember that every bit counts, so why not take the plunge and start today?