Thanksgiving may be over, but the effects of all that food are just settling in. Whether you were one of the lucky ones able to take off work to feast with family, or you took advantage of leftovers after that holiday hospital shift, if you’re like many Americans this week, your bathroom scale may be reading slightly higher than usual. You’re also probably anxious to see that number go back down before you have to buy that larger sets of scrubs. But if you think that just a few extra trips to the gym this week will do the trick, you may be disappointed.
A new study done by Bangor University in the United Kingdom claims that exercise alone rarely leads to weight loss. Of the 34 women who took part in the study, and regardless of whether the test subjects were lean, overweight, or obese, none of those involved lost weight… even after 12 circuit training exercise classes across four weeks.
In fact, for women who are overweight or obese, exercise actually lead to an increase in appetite hormones, the study claims.
“Our body system is so well regulated, that it always finds a way to compensate for a loss in energy after exercise,” says Dr. Hans-Peter Kubis, a co-author of the study. “Whether they are aware of it or not, someone undertaking more physical activity or exercise may experience increased appetite as a result, and this makes it difficult for people to achieve their goals.”
But if you think this means we should start skipping those trips to the gym, think again. Dr. Kubis stresses that while exercise alone may not directly lead to weight loss, it’s still an important part of a weight loss program… along with many other benefits.
“To be effective, exercise training for weight loss needs to be integrated into a lifestyle approach to weight loss, including exercise combined with diet.”
In other words, keep that appointment at the gym, on the running trail, or in that spin class… just make sure you combine it with healthy changes to diet as well. And that may just mean looking the other way when a co-worker brings leftover pie to the nurses’ station.
Of course, a solid (and doctor approved) exercise program can have a lot more benefits than just contributing towards weight loss, benefits such as:
· Improving your memory – A study found that exercise right after learning can boost your memory (particularly helpful to keep in mind if you’re currently studying to become a nurse).
· Disease prevention – Exercise has been found to prevent a variety of age-related diseases including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and diabetes.
· Stronger emotional health – Endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine are all released during exercise, meaning a happier you.
· Fewer PMS symptoms – One study found that 80% of subjects had less pain, bloating, and irritation during PMS if they exercised regularly.
· Social outlets – Exercise classes or running groups are great ways to meet new people. This not only makes the exercise easier, but it also helps prevent the negative health effects caused by loneliness.
In the words of Dr. Yoni Freedhoff (MD), “Exercise is not a weight loss drug, and so long as we continue to push exercise primarily (and sadly sometimes exclusively) in the name of preventing or treating adult or childhood obesity, we’ll also continue to shortchange the public about the genuinely incredible health benefits of exercise and, simultaneously, misinform them about the realities of long-term weight management.”
So even though that extra jog this week might not completely counter that third helping of Aunt Frieda’s pecan pie last Thursday, keep that appointment with your jogging shoes anyway. And if you really want to help that bathroom scale number, get ready to pass on the eggnog and fudge as the Christmas goodies start making their rounds.
For more information on beginning your own career in health care, contact Unitek College today for information on our many nursing and medical assistant programs.