My article in the JEP; summary: Listen to the right information! Exercise helps – but maybe not in the way you think.
During lockdown, exercise plays a vital part in health. First, let me tell you what it doesn’t do: it won’t burn off any excess weight you may have.
That means, if you want to order that extra pizza and burn it off in your next two-hour outdoor exercise slot, you’ll need to rethink what you’re eating rather than trying to mitigate the effects through running or walking briskly.
UK and Jersey health authorities still cling to the outmoded and disproven idea that if you eat 3,500 calories less, or exercise to ‘burn them off’, you will lose 1lb of fat.
When people then ‘eat less and exercise more’ to lose weight, and yet fail time after time, the fault is put on the overweight people, not the givers of the wrong advice.
The truth is, if you don’t eat enough, your body will make you rest more – and if you exercise a lot, your body will make you eat more.
Why bother to exercise then? Insulin resistance is a huge factor in driving weight gain; in terms of weight loss, exercise along with the right dietary approach* can help increase your insulin sensitivity and allow your body to access and use its fat stores.
Here are some more of the many benefits of exercise:
- You gain strength, flexibility and balance
- Your day-to-day energy levels and tolerance to cold increase
- Your bone density is maintained
- You alleviate constipation
- Your blood profile improves
- You become more toned
- You produce ‘happy hormones’
- You can do it with others, and social interaction is particularly important right now
Not exercising is bad for your health, so please do something regularly.
We’re allowed out daily and can benefit massively from our large beaches, lanes and wooded areas. What to do at home, however? Of course, it depends on your facilities and mobility, but there is a whole slew of ideas, exercise videos and live exercise classes online.
These include cardio, short bursts of intense resistance exercise (or doing housework with vigour), dance, stretches, yoga, and more. ‘Belt it out’ singing helps too! If you’re confined a lot to your couch, look up ‘chair exercises’, and lift three-quarter full water bottles.
In conclusion: can you run off a bad diet? No. Should you ‘exercise’? Most definitely.
*In short, eat much less sugar and starch and more natural fats, with no snacking and a shorter daily eating window.