mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Evidently I've been wasting all my time at the gym...

Via this post at Consumerist comes an article claiming that exercise is a waste of time - that weight is based mostly on what we eat, and if we exercise more, we just get hungrier and eat more to make up for it.

Both the original article and the consumerist cite a Finnish study that showed exercise as either leading to a decreased rate of weight gain or an increased one. Except the studies weren't of people trying to lose weight, but rather of people who were trying to keep from gaining weight back - they were in the weight maintenance stage.

Now, I don't have any fancy studies. But starting in 2005, I started to get serious about losing weight after taking one of those "how long will you live" tests and finding out I was likely to be on the wrong side of the dirt before age 50. I started to watch what I ate - and for the first time in my life, I also started to exercise - a little walking at first, and then worked my way up to joining a gym. Over about 2 years, I dropped about a hundred pounds and about 10 inches in the waist , and I've managed to keep it off.

That's not to say I'm in perfect shape. I'd like to be about an inch less waist-wise (right now I'm between two pants sizes) and my weight is right at the line for the CDC's cutoff between normal and overweight. I've still got a little flab around the belly area.

And I have let some of my old eating habits creep in - desert, the occasional deep-fried dinner or greasy diner breakfast, muching on cookies at meetings at work. But I do eat better than I used to.

I think, though, that exercise also plays a role in. With a few exceptions when time hasn't permitted, I generally do about an hour and a half of cardio a day, most days. Nothing too intense, but if I can trust the calorie counters on the equipment, I burn around 900 calories as I cover my 8 or so miles. That leave a lot of room for the occasional chicken tender dinner.

The thing is, I've been trying to lose weight my whole life. This is the first time I've made any effort to exercise, and it's also the first time the weight has stayed off for any length of time.

Now, people are very different, both in terms of genetics and motivation. Some people may do better with just diet. But I don't think I'm one of those people.

And I think there are other reasons to exercise, even if it doesn't make a huge difference in weight loss - it builds muscle, it strengthens the heart, it gets you in better shape to do other physical activities. I've read about studies that shows that it helps release chemicals that combat depression (gee, imagine how depressed I'd be if I didn't exercise) and possibly makes you smarter. It's a good way to meet people - I go to the gym at the college I work at, so I get to see coworkers in a nonwork environment. It gives you a certain sense of accomplishment. It's also a good place to see chicks in short shorts and spandex tops.

So Finnish studies be damned, I think I'm a lot better off with my daily workouts.


At 10:07 AM, Blogger tralatrala said...

i hate studies involving food/exercise and weight loss. it's such a common sense thing, exercise makes your body feel better, eating well makes your body feel better, it's just a good thing. but i will say since i ramped into this whole "i wanna run a 5k thing" and started run/walking 4 times a week, i've actually gained a pound! :\


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