Exercise For Weight Loss?

There’s a lot of misinformation about the advantages of exercise, especially concerning weight loss.

Let’s use a little common sense, shall we?

When we become active, such as working out, we use up energy.

If you do not consume additional calories, then this energy needs to come from somewhere in your body, i.e., from fat.

So, the more you exercise, the more fat you burn off. And you’ll shed weight.

Quite simple, right?


This is how common sense will fail you, and everybody else who pushes this line of thinking.

Do not kill the messenger, though, as I’m just passing on researched reality.

The truth is that exercise features a pitifully small weight loss benefit.

Mild to moderate exercise removes an average of less than three pounds or about 1 kilogram.

Vigorous exercise produces barely any additional weight loss at four pounds or about 1.8 kilograms.

That is all!

Now, that is not to say exercise does not have its importance. It does.

Among other advantages, exercise tones up your muscles, improves your heart, enhances your mood more than any anti-depressant drug can, and helps you live longer. Pretty significant, if you ask me.

It is just that exercise is not all it is cracked up to be for shedding weight.

This not-quite-so-common-sense finding is systematically proven by a review of all the best literature on exercise, compiled by the most authoritative research collation body in the world, the Cochrane Collaboration. They’re not sponsored by medical companies, so they’re uniquely independent reviewers.

The header of their “Exercise for Overweight or Obesity” review says:

“We discovered that exercise features a positive impact on body weight.”

However, buried lower down in the sleep-inducing technical specifics, they admit how miserably small that weight loss is.

“When compared with no therapy, exercise resulted in small weight losses across scientific studies. Exercise combined with diet program resulted in a better weight reduction than diet program alone (WMD – 1.0 kg; 95% confidence interval (CI) -1.3 to -0.7).”

Raising exercise intensity increased the magnitude of weight reduction (WMD – 1.5 kg; 95% CI -2.3 to -0.7).

The small weight loss is definitely the same whether you exercise for 6 weeks, 12 weeks, 6 months, or 12 months!

What’s more, regardless of what type of exercise it is, the outcome is pretty much the same.

You can verify the complete study here.

So, to summarize:

When someone, a fitness instructor, a personal trainer, a buddy, a health adviser, or perhaps a medical authority, tells you that exercise will help you shed weight, I invite you to challenge them.

Ask them just how much weight they believe exercise will help you lose, and watch them ignore your question, squirm, or outright invent stuff.

If they disagree with the study above, then have them send their research proof to me. No one has yet.

Bust the myth making.

The truth is that yes, on average, exercise will help you lose weight. Just not that much.

About Dr.MartinRussell

Dr. Martin Russell is a general practitioner who is extremely passionate about finding ways on how to lose weight effectively without the usual sacrifices like dieting and exercising. Furthermore, he has a Self Help Blog and he founded a weight loss site called www.WeightLossAdelaide.com.au where you can click over for a free guide to losing weight while eating all the foods you love and no calorie counting.


  1. Kevin Edwards says

    Having just read your article about exercise & weight loss, I would just like to leave feedback; I’m 52 years old & during the period in my life between 35-48 years old, I was obese. I’m 180cm tall & at 48 I weighed 124kg. I was also quite obviously extremely unfit. In October 2008 I decided to get fit & loose weight. I cut all processed carbs other than wholemeal bread & I also cut out most fats. My exercise regime involved walking in the hills & riding a bike around linear park. As I got fitter, I introduced skipping & boxing a bag. Eventually I was able to not only walk very quickly around some quite steep hills for an hour without rest stops, I began to jog around them. I also began lifting weights. By July 2009 I was running uphill & down and my weight had dropped to 88kg. In March 2010 I reduced the intensity of my workouts & maintained my good eating habits. I immediately commenced to gain weight! I’m currently 92kg & quite fit. I have varied my exercise regime several times since 2010 & every time I reduce the intensity of my exercises, I gain weight. Also, each time I increase the intensity of my workouts, I lose weight. Nothing else changes in my day to day life other than the amount of exercises I do & the intensity at which I do it.

  2. First of all Kevin congrats on your results!
    You are fitter and slimmer and have been for at least a couple of years now. That is no mean feat and I suspect you could teach many people a thing or three.
    So to the question of exercise and weight loss I would say 2 things.
    1. The studies show averages, and there are always outliers to averages. Some in the study who gain kilos, and some who lose lots of kilos. That’s the risk in such studies – they miss the exceptions.
    2. At your 180cm the top of the ‘ideal’ weight range (ie BMI of 25) is 82 kilograms, so that unless there is a lot of muscle bulk, something is still a little ‘out’ for you to be that weight.
    But both of these factors are irrelevant in your case. Your health risk profile is now in the excellent range and I look forward to you enjoying your results for a long, long lifetime to come!

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