Top 5 Myths About Weight Loss and Exercise

There are dozens of reasons why someone might start exercising — and trying to lose weight typically tops the list. However, there are many outdated myths about exercise and weight loss — let’s bust the top five. 

1. Exercise Alone Will Lead to Weight Loss

Although exercise has a myriad of health benefits, starting a workout regimen solely to lose weight — without changing your diet or lifestyle — typically will not work. This is because exercise alone does not create enough of a calorie deficit needed to lose meaningful weight, as most fitness routines will burn just a couple hundred calories. Yes, exercise can help build muscle and change your body composition, but a healthy diet with adequate sleep and stress management is also a larger part of the weight loss puzzle.

2. You Need to Sweat to See Results

A common myth about exercise is that you need to be sweating profusely to feel like it’s “working.” This is entirely untrue, as many activities are efficient but don’t leave you dripping sweat, like long walks, strength training, or yoga. Plus, sweating is indicative of how your body is regulating temperature, not how many calories you’re burning. 

3. You Need to “Work Off” Your Food

Rather than exercising to work off any food you ate, or preemptively working out so you can “deserve” your food later, think about fitness as a separate part of health than eating. We need to fuel our bodies whether we exercised or not, and most exercises don’t burn as many calories as we think they do. This could lead to overeating — or overexercising — if you try to cancel out the two. 

4. More Exercise = More Weight Loss

A common misconception about exercise is that more is better. While some people do thrive on higher activity levels, most people need adequate periods of rest to refuel and recover. Excessive activity can backfire for weight loss because exercise boosts our body’s production of the stress hormone cortisol, and too much cortisol can actually cause weight gain! 

5. Cardio Leads to the Most Weight Loss

While cardio or aerobic exercises are undoubtedly important — especially for heart health — combining resistance or strength training to your fitness regimen can help you meet your weight loss goals faster. Although cardio exercises burn more calories, strength training benefits your body in the long run by building muscle — which naturally burns more calories at rest.

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