Exercise is not a great way to lose weight.
This may sound like heresy coming from a fitness professional, but it is true. If you are looking to lose weight, exercise alone is unlikely to get you there. Even if you work out an hour a day 7 days a week, those other 23 hours (especially if you spend most of your time sitting) can override the benefits. You may be an “active couch potato”.
More importantly, when it comes to losing weight, diet counts more than exercise. Despite the noise from various diets advocates, it really is a matter of caloric balance. If you take in more calories than you burn you will gain weight. Conversely, to lose weight you must take in fewer calories than you burn. If your goal is weight loss it is very hard to burn enough calories through exercise alone.
This does not mean that exercise is useless. It is actually crucial, but must be paired with healthy eating. Exercise (specifically strength training) helps prevent the loss of lean muscle tissue that can occur with dieting. You may say you want to lose weight, but it is really fat that you want to lose. If you take in fewer calories than you burn, your body may use your muscle tissue as an energy source. Resistance training helps prevent this. Having a higher percentage of muscle compared to fat helps your body burn more calories, even while at rest.
Exercise plays a star role in keeping weight off. Many people lose weight only to gain it back again (and again). Those who partake in a regular fitness program are much more likely to keep the weight off. In addition, just a small amount of exercise (even 10 minutes a day) can have major health benefits such as reduced blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol. Positive behavior leads to more positive behavior. Make exercise a regular part of your life and it will be easier to resist the call of the freezer or pantry.