The common mantra is “get more exercise”. My question is whether or not exercise helps in weight loss and if so, how much?
Turns out exercise doesn’t help all that much in weight loss. This study looked at just how much exercise helped in weight loss (Christiansen T1, Paulsen SK, Bruun JM, Pedersen SB, Richelsen B. Exercise training versus diet-induced weight-loss on metabolic risk factors and inflammatory markers in obese subjects: a 12-week randomized intervention study. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Apr;298(4).)
The study was 12 weeks long and looked at the effects of diet alone, exercise and diet, and exercise alone. Seventy-nine obese subjects were recruited for the study. They were fed a very low calorie diet and the exercise cohorts were given aerobic exercise three times a week for 60-90 minutes.
Weight loss was virtually identical in the diet only and the diet plus exercise groups. The exercise only group lost significantly less weight.
The key item to note is that both diet and exercise and diet alone both reduced the metabolic syndrome (Insulin Resistance) significantly.
After the intervention, a significant decrease in the number of subjects with the metabolic syndrome was observed in both the DIO group and the DEX group (both P < 0.05; Table 2).
In fact, the Glucose level and Insulin Resistance was more improved in the diet only (DIO) group than in the diet plus exercise (DEX) group.
So you might want to consider the advantages of Diet Only although it looks as if Diet plus Exercise won’t hurt your numbers too badly.
To be fair the exercise groups did have a positive benefit to their health:
Subjects in the EXO and DEX groups increased their VO2max
with 18 and 14%.
A good article (Julia Belluz and Javier Zarracina. Why you shouldn’t exercise to lose weight, explained with 60+ studies. Vox, Updated Oct 31, 2017.).