Health: physical activity gets rid of stubborn pounds

Zari Alishiri

Zari Alishiri

According to the National Weight Control Registry, 90 percent of successful dieters use workouts to maintain loss.

It’s not all about calories; it’s the workout that really counts. When you’re determined to lose weight, slashing calories can help in the short term, but new research shows adding physical activity to the mix is what peels away the stubborn pounds and keeps them off for good. Those who don’t exercise (the Centers for Disease Control says 69 percent of people trying to lose weight don’t work out) risk a rebound.

Exercise is as important as diet. For example, say you want to lose belly fat that’s associated with metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and diabetes according to a study from Wake Forest University. Researchers found that those who dieted without exercise had no changes in abdominal fat cell size, but those who combined exercise with diet saw their fat cells shrink by 17 percent. So a dieter who exercises has smaller fat cells and a lower risk of heart disease.

Diet alone is not the ideal solution to a healthy and long-term weight loss plan. Studies show, in most cases, people regain weight, and that is because of a slower metabolism.

In a new study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, those who cut 230 calories out of their daily diet for a year but didn’t exercise lost muscle mass, strength and aerobic capacity. Losing muscle isn’t what you want to happen.

Exercise, especially strength training, helps you maintain or increase your muscle mass and metabolism, allowing you to burn more fat. Another study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association suggests exercise-even without a diet plan-is more effective for managing weight.

The bonus payoff: don’t forget the other benefits of being active-you’ll enjoy more energy and better overall health. So grab your sneakers and get going.