Why do you exercise and go to the gym? I often ask my clients this, because knowing the reasons why they want to exercise helps me to plan what types of exercises they should be doing
The answers I generally hear, include these ones:
- To lose weight/fat/tone up
- To burn off extra calories
- Because it makes me feel good when I am on an exercise program
- To get stronger/increase lean muscle mass
Now, these are all great answers, so let’s look at each one individually.
1. Will you actually lose weight, tone up, or lose fat once you start exercising?
The answer is MAYBE!
For the most part, you will as long as two things are combined with the exercise,
a) you have your nutrition under control and
b) you are doing exercise that is progressively harder than last month, or last week.
2. Yes exercise burns calories but is ‘burning calories’ going to get you closer to your goals?
Most people who exercise to burn calories are exercising to “lose weight, lose fat, or tone up”. So let’s look at how many calories exercise actually burns. All of these figures are per hour of activity.
Weight Lifting– 204cal
Jogging 8km– 544cal
Spin Class– 637cal
Light activity (office job)– 98cal
As you can see, even sitting around doing nothing (light activity), you are still burning almost 100 calories per hour. That means your average bout of exercise only burns an extra 100 to 537 calories per workout. Bear with me while we do some calculations…
If you want to lose just 1 pound of fat per week you have to burn approximately 3500 calories more than you intake.
Let’s say the average workout burns 400 calories that means you must do about 9 one-hour workouts each week to achieve 1 pound fat loss.
That’s right, 9 HOURS OF EXERCISE!
So if you want to lose weight by just burning calories….
3. Exercising because it makes you feel good is obviously important
Exercising should make you feel good and should not make you so sore that you can’t perform daily functions.
Exercise should be designed to make you move better, in other words, more flexibility, less aches and pains, better balance, and stronger.
Don’t think that you need to do Yoga or hours of stretching to get flexible, any well-designed exercise programme should accomplish all of the above. The main reason we lose flexibility these days is all the sitting we do. We teach our bodies to perform many tasks from a seated position when it was never meant to do so.
When we do this we shut off the ‘mover’ muscles we are supposed to use in everyday life and start using the ‘mover’ muscles for things we are not supposed to use them for. Then you start exercising or adding load to your body again and the mover muscles don’t work properly and it usually results in pain, discomfort, or muscle tightness.
4. If you are stronger everything is better.
Why do men lose weight quicker than women in most cases? Because they usually carry around more lean muscle mass than women.
It is said that each pound of lean mass on your body burns 50 extra calories per day. That means when you are not exercising you burn more calories. It also means that after a strength training session you will burn more calories in the 24 to 72 hours after a workout while the body recovers.
So in conclusion – there are many good reasons to exercise – it should help you burn calories, but also it should help you to feel good and to move more freely. If you do strnngth exercies while also eating a healthy diet, then you should also tone up and lose fat. Plus, if you are doing something you enjoy, exercise is fun!
Rachel Law is a personal fitness trainer based in New Malden, Surrey. Qualifications: ActivIQ Level 3 Personal Training; Burrell Education Pregnancy Exercise Prescription; Burrell Education Advanced Pregnancy Wellness Practitioner; Burrell Education Advanced Post Natal Exercise Prescription; Burrell Education 3rd Age Women Optimal Health and Nutrition; Burrell Education Peri Natal Athlete; Burrell Education Pelvic Flow and Freedom; Olympic Weight Lifting; Premier Global Kettlebells; FIE Level Assessment and Mentoring