Fitness at any weight
Dr. Darrell Menard
Q: I have put on a significant amount of weight in the last few years and despite exercising every day I have not been able to return to my enrolment weight. Is there any hope that I can change my exercise routine to achieve my desired body weight? Frustrated
A: Dear Frustrated: First of all – congratulations, because being a regular exerciser at any weight is a great thing. Health and fitness specialists regularly meet frustrated people like yourself whose exercise program isn’t producing the weight loss they desire. Just like you, many of these people are ready to quit and they are pleasantly surprised to hear that weight loss alone is a very poor measure of the success of a health and fitness program.
While being overweight does have its own set of health risks, research has clearly shown inactivity is a significant risk to your health regardless of your body weight. Study after study shows that people who are overweight and active have fewer health problems than people who are overweight and sedentary. Depression, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure and osteoarthritis can all be helped or eliminated with regular physical activity. These findings reinforce that people are designed to move and when we don’t treat our bodies to a regular dose of exercise bad things happen.
While regular exercise offers a wide variety of health benefits, on its own it is a very time consuming way to try to lose weight. For example the average person needs to run for an extra 90 minutes to burn the calorie equivalent of eating a Big Mac, a medium French fries and a large pop. Unless you have an unlimited amount of free time, your weight loss strategy should include a combination of regular exercise and calorie watching.
The bottom line is that you should stop measuring the success of your health and fitness program exclusively with a weight scale. If you are looking to drop a few pounds and keep them off, then the secret to success should involve a combination of daily exercise and watching your calorie intake. Exercise is medicine.
Dr. Darrell Menard OMM, CD, MD (former Physical Education Officer at RMC) now a Sport Medicine Physician