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Not the Way to Weight Loss

We all know that exercise is good for us. But the benefits are not as tied up in weight loss as one might think. This may be a relief to some people who don't want to focus on their weight, but do want to live a healthier and happier life. While exercise can assist in weight loss, the other benefits, such as decreased risk in mortality are far more important.

Just this week, I listened to a podcast, called "Why It's Normal to Dislike Exercise," where Harvard professor Daniel Lieberman talked about the benefits of exercise. Weight loss is mentioned in the list of benefits, but it is not nearly as important as some might think. In actuality, diet is the most important factor contributing to weight loss. Dr. Lieberman says, exercise "is not the best way to lose weight" but it is "extraordinarily important in helping you prevent weight regain." He also states, "study after study has shown that if you exercise and you continue to exercise after the diet is over it helps you prevent weight regain and it just helps prevent weight gain in the first place." So if we're not exercising to lose weight, then... why exactly is exercise so important to our health?

There are many health benefits to exercise. The list is long: reduced risk of mortality, reduced risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer's, and heart disease, improved sleep, more energy, increased bone density and muscle tone, elevated mood and sex drive, better brain health and memory, reduced anxiety, and even better skin. Pick your reason! There are plenty of reasons to exercise. And if that's not enough, Dr. states that sixty minutes of exercise per week reduces the risk of mortality by 30-40%, while 150 minutes per week reduces the risk of mortality by 50%! Yet 80% of Americans don't get hte recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week, which amounts to 21 minutes per day, and can be accomplished by going for a walk. Exercise is also the number one way to decrease the risk of Alzheimer's, and promotes BDNF which is "like Miracle Grow for the brain." Okay these are just a few astounding facts about the benefits of exercise. So why doesn't everyone exercise if it's so good for us?

In the podcast, Dr. Lieberman explains how we have not yet evolved from our hunter gatherer days when optional energy expenditure would have been unwise. Back in the day, we had to preserve our energy for necessary grueling tasks such as collecting water and food. And since then our daily habits have drastically changed, but our instinct has not yet caught up to our environment.

In conclusion, weight loss should not be your reason for exercise. There are plenty of other excellent reasons to exercise, such as staying alive. And don't beat yourself up over your disdain for that boot class- it's simply a matter of nature. And what's even better is that you can choose exercise that feels good for you, and still reap the many benefits of exercise.


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