On the first of January, John woke up at 5:00 AM. The previous night had been a motivational one. Celebrities had romped the TV screen, broadcasting their New Year Resolutions.
“I will run 5 miles per day and lose 20 Kg!”
“I will maintain my figure.”
“I plan to lose another ten kilos.”
“It is 365 hours at the gym this year for me!”
John felt inspired! He did not want to be fat-shamed anymore. ‘John the Obese’ – they would call him at his office. He now followed his resolution with absolute determination. John would run his way to the gym every morning, and spend an hour there on a treadmill and weight training. Then he would run back home and rush to work.
A year later, John visited his doctor, feeling very depressed, even suicidal. He had lost only 1 Kg of his body weight! The doctor tried to point out that John looked healthier and is probably fitter. Alas, it was of no avail. John quickly fell back to his old routine and cancelled his gym membership.
John’s story is not new. As a doctor treating obesity and Diabetes, I have seen hundreds of patients narrating the same story. They exercise and exercise and exercise, but not a kilo of weight is shed! Why? Friends, please do read the next lines carefully. Exercise is truly a magic pill. Exercise improves blood glucose, reduces blood pressure, increases muscle strength, prevents high cholesterol and even protects against cancer. Exercise probably has more benefits than any other pharmaceutical drug! But here is a fact for you – exercise will not help much in weight loss!
Surprised? Now let’s look at the reasons. I admit exercise does help in spending energy. But studies have shown that about 70 per cent of energy is utilised by the body in the functioning of its organs (called basal energy expenditure) and digesting food (called dietary thermogenesis). Only a maximum of 30 per cent of energy is spent during physical activity (which includes walking, talking, writing, and only a part of this is due to exercise).
Moreover, people doing severe exercise often feel tired late and cut down on their other activities, even becoming sedentary. Thus, the net energy expended by physical activities remains the same. This is called compensatory behaviour.
Often, after exercise, people eat more food. This is because they feel not only hungrier but also less guilty about eating, having just exercised. This is called compensatory eating.
Friends, exercise is indeed a miracle drug with multiple benefits but it alone won’t help you shed lots and lots of weight. Exercise may help you live longer. And if you do lose weight via dietary restriction – and indeed this is the best way to lose weight – then, exercise can help you maintain that weight loss.
At Diabetes Health, we celebrate exercise, with novel methods to keep fit so that you can get your exercise routine on track while staying away from the beaten track! Innovative methods of exercise add variety to your traditional exercise routine and will help you enjoy your exercise better.
As they say, variety is the ‘Exer-Spice’ of life!
Dr Unnikrishnan AG