Can people who are obese stop losing weight if they exercise? The answer depends on how you define “lose weight.”
The science is clear on this. No matter how hard people try, nothing will change if we treat obesity as an illness.
There are a couple of reasons I think this idea is a non-starter: the body is biologically hardwired to respond to physical activity.
One of the reasons we exercise so much is that the body responds to exercise in very specific ways:
1) Intuitive: if you think about it, you know it’s more efficient for you to go through a long day in a chair than to run around a track. As the body gets used to sitting, it’s less efficient at running around the track.
2) Circadian Rhythmical: your body gets used to sitting at around a certain time of day to run around the track. For instance, some studies show that during the winter the body’s metabolism rates decline, and the body can’t get as much exercise in the winter because it’s in a much slower rhythm. This makes the body not want to exercise as much and so it will turn to the “circadian rhythmical” part of our body, and thus the “resting metabolic rate” part of our metabolism. It’s almost like it’s saying to the body, “Okay, you’re not really in need of exercise. If you’re not in the mood to run, then maybe you should keep your hands off the wheel! No need to overwork yourself anymore!”
The bottom line is that the body is hardwired to respond to exercise at the specific times that work best for it.
We all know the physiological response to exercise is amazing. If you do 100 push-ups, you’ll probably get chills and get your heart pumping. If you do 50 sit-ups, your heart rate increases. If you do just a single squat, you’ll feel a nice pump in your legs and get a small rise in your heart rate. If you do 100 sit-ups, you’ll likely feel like you are having a really tough time sitting at your desk, but if you do a single squat, then you’ll feel good and you’ll do more squatting.
All of that is normal, and the reason why people can do all the other activities they do well is because of the physiological response you’ll get when you exercise and that response doesn’t change if you sit
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