Many people have been asking me for my opinion on the recent BBC Horizon documentary “The Truth About Exercise”, so I thought I’d share my thoughts here:
1. Exercise and weight loss
I have said before, that if someone tells you how to lose weight and their method revolves solely around exercise, then they are lying.
As the documentary showed, if you are relying on exercise alone to compensate for a high calorie diet, then you will need to do A LOT of exercise to burn off the calories. You would probably need to spend most of the day at the gym.
With women over 40, it almost becomes impossible to rely on exercise alone. This explains why so many women get disillusioned with gym workouts, because on their own, they cannot deliver weight loss.
The fact is, if you want to lose weight, then exercise alone is not the answer. You must also cut back the amount of calories you take in.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bother exercising at all. Exercise has a long list of health and psychological benefits (more than were covered in the documentary) that make it an essential activity.
2. NEAT is neat
Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is a fancy way of describing all the energy you burn when doing any activity apart from exercising. This includes fidgeting, standing, walking etc and it is often neglected as an important way of burning calories, since a week’s worth of NEAT often outweighs a few hours at the gym .
The take home point is that increasing activity doesn’t have to mean exercising at a gym. In fact, being sedentary most of the day and then only being active at the gym is not enough.
I always recommend to my clients to increase their “lifestyle” activity. What does that mean?
- walking more
- taking the stairs
- playing with kids / grandkids
- walking around while talking on the phone
3. The Worst Gene Test in the World
In the documentary, the presenter had a gene test that showed if he was a person who responded well or poorly to exercise.
In my opinion, this sort of test can only do harm. The researcher stated that the gene test could be a motivational tool for people who discover that they are high-responders.
First of all, when the presenter found out he was a low-responder to exercise, his unbridled dismay showed that for many people, this would be the ultimate de-motivator. (The indifferent response of the researcher to the presenter’s distress wasn’t very reassuring either)
And secondly, even if someone was to find out they were a high-responder to exercise, what would we say to them? “You know how we’ve been saying that exercise is good for people all this time? Well, in your case, it’s actually true”.
With so many people telling us that exercise is good for us already, why should this test make any difference for motivation?
Yes exercise is good for you. No you won’t lose weight without changing what you eat. Increasing “lifestyle” activity is as good as going to the gym (sometimes better).
Dr. Khandee Ahnaimugan (Dr. K) is a medical doctor, weight loss expert and author of the best-selling book, “Slim and Healthy without Dieting”. Try his FREE 7 Day Weight Loss E-Course at www.doctorkweightloss.com