There is so much chatter about how good exercise can be, but often we don’t get down to the nitty gritty of why physical activity can have such a profound impact on weight management. There are so many benefits surrounding exercise, and keeping these in mind will help you to stay motivated even on the most sluggish day. Let’s explore them together…
1. Burns Calories and Boosts Metabolism
When you engage in physical activity, your body expends energy, leading to calorie burn. Regular exercise can increase your metabolic rate, meaning you'll burn more calories even when at rest. This makes it easier to create a calorie deficit, a fundamental aspect of weight loss.
2. Preserves Lean Muscle Mass
Losing weight isn't just about shedding pounds; it's about losing fat while preserving muscle. Exercise helps in achieving this balance. Strength training, in particular, aids in building and maintaining lean muscle mass, which can contribute to a higher resting metabolic rate1.
3. Changes to your Appetite
Exercise has a remarkable way of regulating hunger hormones. After a good workout, endorphins will be flowing and this will motivate you to sustain healthy habits and eat in a way that compliments the hard work you have put in through exercising2.
4. Enhances Mood and Reduces Stress
Stress and emotional eating are common culprits for weight gain. Exercise is a natural stress-buster, releasing endorphins that improve your mood and reduce stress levels. When you feel better mentally, you're less likely to turn to comfort foods2.
5. Improves Insulin Sensitivity
Exercise improves your body's ability to use insulin effectively, helping to keep blood sugar levels stable. This can reduce the risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, both of which can make weight management more challenging3.
6. Boosts Energy Levels
Contrary to what you might think, exercise doesn't deplete your energy; it replenishes it. Regular physical activity increases your cardiovascular fitness, making daily tasks feel less exhausting. This, in turn, encourages you to stay active and maintain a healthy weight1.
7. Supports Long-Term Weight Maintenance
Many diets lead to short-term weight loss, but maintaining that loss can be challenging. Exercise plays a vital role in keeping the weight off by helping you build sustainable habits and preventing the dreaded yo-yo effect.
8. Enhances Sleep Quality
Quality sleep is crucial for weight management. Exercise can improve sleep patterns, ensuring that you get the rest you need for optimal health and weight control.
9. Promotes a Healthy Lifestyle
Exercise is often the catalyst for positive lifestyle changes and you may find yourself naturally making healthier choices in other aspects of your life, including nutrition. Exercise can also improve cardiovascular health, which is especially important for people with diabetes as they are at a higher risk of heart disease and stroke3. Regular physical activity can help lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular complications5.
10. Builds Confidence and Motivation
Seeing progress in your fitness journey can be incredibly motivating. The sense of accomplishment and increased self-esteem can spill over into other areas of your life, helping you stay committed to your weight management goals.
Incorporating regular exercise into your life is a powerful tool for weight management6. Remember, it's not just about the numbers on the scale; it's about feeling healthier, more energetic, and confident in your own skin. Exercise shouldn’t be a punishment, but a form of movement that makes you feel good. So, lace up those trainers, find an activity you enjoy, and start reaping the numerous benefits of exercise on your journey to better weight management. Your body and mind will thank you for it!
- Willoughby D, Hewlings S and Kalman D, Body Composition Changes in Weight Loss: Strategies and Supplementation for Maintaining Weight Loss: A Brief Review, Nutrients, 2018 Dec; 10(12): 1876.
- Basso J. C. and Suzuki W. A., The Effects of Acute Exercise on Mood, Cognition, Neurophysiology, and Neurochemical Pathways: A Review, Brain Plasticity, 2017; 2(2): 127–152.
- Bird S. R. and Hawley J. A., Update on the effects of physical activity on insulin sensitivity in humans, BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, 2016; 2(1), doi: 10.1136/bmjsem-2016-000143.
- Kline C. E., The bidirectional relationship between exercise and sleep: Implications for exercise adherence and sleep improvement, American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. 2014 Nov-Dec; 8(6): 375–379.
- Swift D. L. et al, The Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Weight Loss and Maintenance, Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, 2018, 61(2):206-213, doi: 10.1016/j.pcad.2018.07.014.
- National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. (2013). Physical activity: brief advice for adults in primary care. May 2013. Available at: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ph44/chapter/1-recommendations#:~:text=Prevents%20and%20helps%20to%20manage,and%20release%20from%20daily%20stress. (Accessed: November 2023).