Most people can tell you exercise is something you should do, even though many people rank it on their chore list right next to cleaning the toilet. It’s a gross vitamin or kale slushie. While knowing you should do it doesn’t make it easy, those people telling you to do it are right on so many levels.


Exercise for Weight Loss?


Many people think that exercise and weight loss go hand in hand. Often it is considered an important part of a diet plan,

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but does it really help you lose weight? Unfortunately, many studies are saying it doesn’t. Everyone is on the same page saying that exercise is awesome, and you should totally do it, but it just doesn’t burn calories as fast as people can eat them. (1) Think about that number you see on the treadmill where it tells you how many calories you have burned.

Typically it will give you a number like 200 or 300 for the amount of time you are willing to pound on it, right? A bagel and cream cheese is 379 calories. (2)  That is 30 minutes of your life sweating it out in boredom that just went down the tubes. In reality, science tells us that weight loss is connected strictly to what we eat. (3) The calories we take in just have to be less than the calories we burn. Unless we really devote ourselves to hard core training we have no hope of keeping up with that number without altering our intake.  



Exercise for health


While I am so sorry to burst your bubble about exercise alone getting you into those skinny jeans don’t give up on it yet. One other thing science agrees on is that exercise is awesome. For example, if you are completely sedentary and replace some of that couch time with activity like taking a brisk walk one study says that you could decrease your risk of fatal cardiovascular disease by 24 % (4)   One study showed that people who chose to walk or bike to work have lower rater of heart disease that those who are sedentary. Another said that those who run as little as 5 minutes a day on average have a 40% lower risk of premature death. (5)   I could go on. Exercise has been shown to help everything from your sleep to your blood sugar. It can reduce your risk of some cancers and help keep you from falling. (6)  And yes, once you get the weight off by adjusting your diet, or doing whatever else your doctor recommends, exercise can help keep you at that healthy

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weight. The amount of physical things exercise can help you with is truly dizzying, and that says nothing about other areas of your life.


Exercise to feel Happier


Exercise has even been shown to help your mood.(7)  Exercising releases a hormone in your brain called  dopamine that you need for feeling pleasure. Not only will you feel more pleasure but exercise allows you to sweat out your stress as well. It can energize you and may even boost your confidence. (8)  These bleed into other areas of your life. You are less stressed so you have a longer fuse when your partner forgets to mail that package, or you have the energy to play with your kids outside. I tend to tell my family when I come back from a run that everything is right with the world. Very little bothers me when I first come back. It’s rosy glasses toward everyone. You know how cranky you get when you have been working late on a project and you don’t get enough sleep? Well exercise can even make you sleep better. (9) While exercise wearing you out may be one of the things on your whiny list against exercise, that same feeling can contribute to sleeping better and more soundly. Exercising might allow you to relax a bit more with the satisfaction that comes with accomplishing that extra thing on your list that you try so hard to avoid. Looking beyond the day-to-day woes that exercise can help relieve, some studies have even found that exercise can play a role in relieving depression and helping with mental illness (10)  Exercise can make a patient feel confident and in control and contribute to their overall mental health. Doctors are quick to say that exercise is one portion of treatment. So don’t go call Aunt Lou and tell her that if she would just jog a few laps she could quit seeing her therapist.




Exercise to Live Longer


So if exercise is doing so much work keeping you happy and healthy it should come as no surprise that exercise can help you live longer. For one thing, exercise improves your brain’s function in many ways. It can improve your memory, help you concentrate, and improve it’s over all functioning.(11)  These are all things that often decline with aging. Science tells us that getting older, fatter, and flabbier doesn’t have to go together. Reality is the “Use it or lose it,” philosophy applies to our bodies as we age. (12) We do need to respect our limits. If you don’t already have an Olympic career don’t imagine you can begin one in your 50’s by punishing yourself physically. You don’t actually need to work that hard. As a matter of fact one study showed that even small bursts of exercise throughout your day can improve your health and help you live longer. (13) 


The main idea is that one should exercise. Initially, don’t get caught up in the how or when or how hard or how long. If that information intimidates you and keeps you from moving at all disregard it and do something. Walk up and down the

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driveway a few times. Stand up and move your limbs while you watch TV rather than sitting. (14)  Science concludes without a doubt that exercise is a good thing and you, whoever you are, whatever your excuse, should do it in some way. Maybe you move your arms up and down while you sit in your wheelchair, maybe you run sprints. There is some way that this life lengthening, life energizing, healthy activity can be made to fit your life. You just need to start.


  1. Belluz, Julia, and Christophe Haubursin. “The science is in: exercise won’t help you lose much weight.” Vox, 3 Jan. 2018, Accessed 16 Oct. 2018.
  2. Einstein, Paige. “Bagel and Cream Cheese.” nutritionix, 10 June 2016, Accessed 16 Oct. 2018.
  3. Cimons, Marlene. “Exercise does so much for you. Why won’t it make you lose weight?.” Washington Post, 12 Aug. 2017, Accessed 16 Oct. 2018.
  4. Institutet, Karolinska. Science Daily, 25 Jan. 2018, Accessed 16 Oct. 2018.
  5. Shmerling, Robert. “This just in: Exercise is good for you.” Harvard Health, 20 July 2017, Accessed 16 Oct. 2018.
  6. “Benefits of Exercise.” Medline Plus, 22 Aug. 2018, Accessed 16 Oct. 2018.
  7. “Exercise and Mental Health.” Better Health, Jan. 2018, Accessed 16 Oct. 2018.
  8. Stryker, Krista. “6 Reasons Why Exercise Makes You Happy.” Mindy Body Green, Accessed 16 Oct. 2018.
  9. Wasylenko, Jennifer. “10 Reasons Why Exercise Makes You Happier.” lifehack, Accessed 16 Oct. 2018.
  10. Moulite, Maritza. “Exercise is good for your body and your mind, study says.” CNN, CNN, 8 Aug. 2018, Accessed 16 Oct. 2018.
  11. Low Dog, Tieraoha. “5 Ways Science Proves Exercise Keeps Your Brain Young.”, 18 Jan. 2018, Accessed 16 Oct. 2018.
  12. Tweedie, Neil. “Extra time: how smart exercise keeps you younger for longer.” The Guardian, 29 Apr. 2018, Accessed 16 Oct. 2018.
  13. Sifferlin, Alexandra. “Even Light Exercise Can Help You Live Longer.” Time, 20 Feb. 2018, Accessed 16 Oct. 2018.
  14. Dallas, Mary Elizabeth. “Why Any Exercise Is Better Than None for Inactive People.”, 22 Jan. 2015, Accessed 16 Oct. 2018.

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