Health and Fitness

Does Exercise Work? Finally, The Truth Revealed!

"Does Exercise Work"It’s all over the internet lately – the question is ‘does exercise work’, and the answer seems to be a resounding ‘NO’. Exclamation mark.

I’m sure you’ve noticed (haven’t you?) that everywhere you turn, everywhere you look, there seems to be another trainer, health expert, or self-appointed guru popping up to tell you solemnly about the pitfalls of exercise.

extra! extra! exercise doesn’t work!

Just in case you’ve missed the hype news, let’s take a look at just a few of the devastations this seemingly healthy activity can cause –

  • It causes a stress response!
  • It can increase your lower body fat!
  • It’ll ruin your posture!
  • It’s aging!
  • It’s robbing you of sleep, disrupting your body clock, and possibly even causing insulin resistance!
  • Aerobic exercise in particular is a complete waste of time!
  • Even if you are making smart exercise choices for health and fat loss you’re probably doing it wrong anyway!
  • And let’s not even talk about the fact that you’re no doubt a lazy pig the rest of the day; all the while patting yourself on the back for having worked out!

when it comes to weight loss, does exercise work at all?

Well, apparently not.

According to this article by Time Magazine, even if you are somehow managing to forge ahead and feel good about yourself by working out regularly, you’re probably just self-medicating yourself fat again by loading the calories afterwards.

In general, for weight loss, exercise is pretty useless,” says Eric Ravussin, chair in diabetes and metabolism at Louisiana State University and a prominent exercise researcher.

I mean seriously, why are you even bothering?

the facts on exercise and weight loss

It’s true that more of us are going to the gym gym members than ever before, and according to one study quoted in the above article an average of 57% of us are working out nowadays, as opposed to just 47% in 1980.


But could it really be possible that that’s just not good enough? Especially when you consider the impact a workout can have on your appetite:


“If you force yourself to jog for an hour, your self-regulatory capacity is proportionately enfeebled. Rather than lunching on a salad, you’ll be more likely to opt for pizza.”

does exercise work if the variables are right? heck yes!

(Or, Kat’s rebuttal)




Am I the only one offended by the idea that I apparently have no self-control after working out? I don’t know about you, but personally I find that I’m more motivated to eat well and move more when I’m training regularly! On the flipside, if I do have a couple of days off that’s when I tend to become increasingly lazier and start snacking on food I don’t need, healthy or otherwise.


‘Fact’: The new breed of experts say that exercise makes you hungrier, and that’s a bad thing. I say bring it on – but with a side of knowledge about smart refueling (protein, greens, unprocessed starches if you’re carb tolerant or lean).


‘Fact’: They’ll tell you that people who pursue exercise as a pass-time tend to be less mobile the rest of the day. My response? It’s all about your mindset. If you view exercise and healthy living as something to check off after a designated period of time each day then yeah, maybe you will spend the rest of your time lazing around munching on muffins. More likely – if you’re motivated to train regularly or figure out exactly what you need to do to lose weight then you’re probably going to commit to putting that effort in when it comes to nutrition and lifestyle as well as gym-time.

but what about cardio and stress?

It’s true. I’ve been known to speak up against certain forms of exercise on this very blog. Not so subtly, either, on more than one occasion.
I actually got so carried away on this train of thought for a few months there that I ended up writing a definitive piece on the good, bad and ugly of cardio exercise, just to make sure I made it clear that I definitely do not mean avoid it altogether.

points to take home (or to the gym :))

Here’s what makes me cringe when I see blog post or article titles like ‘Your Workout Is Making You Fat!’ – and why I’ll never write another post even remotely like that myself:


  • Scare tactics. If you have the motivation, determination and drive to set aside time to work out and challenge both body and mind, you deserve a massive pat on the back! All too many people whinge their life away, become unhealthier every year, and constantly blame someone else for their woes. You are doing something, and for that you deserve massive kudos, not fear and uncertainty.
  • Insufficient facts. These studies saying (often categorically) that exercise is ‘bad for you’ remind me of so-called research stating that eating high protein is bad for you. Yet when you look behind the summary you see that the protein they were using was processed, or poor quality (not organic and grass-fed), or combined with a sedentary lifestyle and processed carbohydrates. Just because some people may reward themselves with too many treat foods or a weekend of sloth doesn’t inherently make exercise bad.
  • Gives you an excuse not to work hard. It’s true that I don’t love endurance cardio or group fitness as your primary source of exercise. I believe results are about working smart as well as hard, and to me that means a foundation of strength training, with cardio based around circuits and intervals. The occasional endurance session or class is fine for variety or just if you love it. But don’t let anyone tell you that sweating is bad for you! The psychological benefits alone make it worthwhile in my opinion.
  • Implies you will make poor food choices. This one just needs clarifying. Structuring your exercise program around low-intensity cardio will indeed make you crave carbohydrates. This comes down partly to education, and partly to choice. You can choose to be prepared and organised about what you will eat after training (and beyond), and you can also choose to educate yourself about the smartest workout methods for fat loss. But don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

does exercise work? well this certainly does!

If I had to come up with a definitive rule on exercise and weight loss in general I would say sure, abs are made in the kitchen.


Nobody ever out-trained a bad diet and all that.


But avoiding exercise because you’re scared it will make you raid the confectionary aisle and to hell with the consequences? That’s just insanity, isn’t it? And nobody likes a crazy person 😉

13 responses to “Does Exercise Work? Finally, The Truth Revealed!”

  1. Kaari says:

    I saw an article like this about how exercise makes you fat and it makes me incredibly angry. It completely ignores any benefit exercise has besides weight maintenance, and (yes!) it tells us we have no self-control and burning extra calories means we will be forced to eat everything bad in sight.

    I find the same thing: when I’m training regularly, I tend to want more protein and produce and less sugar and processed foods. You are not the only one offended by that idea! I also found that after a week or two of an increase in serious training (the start of swim season, for example), my intense hunger abates and I go back to regular eating patterns. We adjust, and we are not as stupid as these articles think we are.

    • Kat says:

      Glad to hear I’m not the only one who is motivated to live ‘clean’ by training and eating well – keep up the good work Kaari!

  2. think I’m evidence that exercise DOES work!!! 🙂 no wonder people give up with all this confusing ill informed scare mongering going round! maybe thats why I listen to what my BODY is telling me rather than the media…

  3. Jenn says:


    How do you feel about Crossfit?

    • Kat says:

      Unsure. I like the overall style and circuit approach but am horrified at the way they teach Olympic lift and then prescribe high-risk rep ranges and rest periods.

  4. Kay says:

    wow what a great article! i just started to analyze my eating habits and understood that I get almost 45-55% of kcal from fat (good fats though). I eat about 130 grams of protein per day and the rest is left for carbs. But the amount of fat seems a bit too much. Kat, could you please give a comment on that? Should I decrease the amount of fat and if yes, should I eat more protein or carbs. I aim at fat loss.
    Many thanks!

    Kay A.

  5. Kay says:

    well that would be around 90 grams. Seems a lot but in general I feel great.

  6. Natasha says:

    Great article Kat! Simply saying that exercise does’t work because some people can’t control themselves is both maddening and inaccurate! The real key, like you said is behavior and mindset! I was that person “compensating” my post-workout hunger with crap. Then I noticed how amazing I felt and how much energy I had when I refueled with fruit or nuts. Thanks for busting this myth that has probably discouraged dozens if not hundreds from the health benefits of exercise!


  7. Cheryl says:

    Now I find that article interesting as it was only after I started a strength training program that I got interested in eating clean. It has only been 5 weeks for the weights and 3 weeks with the healthy eating so I have a long way to go yet, but I have not gone backwards.