Ready to start the week off on a down note? Yes?! Well, consider this: all of that time and money you invest in gym memberships and personal trainers may actually be useless in regards to losing weight/staying slim!
Time's John Cloud spoke to a group of researchers at Louisiana State University (Geaux Tigers!) who claim that regular exercise may actually make it harder for people to lose weight. How? Because gym exercise makes us hungrier, which often leads to an increase in the consumption of food, much of which is not of the healthy variety by mere virtue of the era in which we live, as many of our foods are processed and filled with all sorts of things the human body has difficulty breaking down.
The researchers at LSU also found that exercising in a gym often also leads to increased levels of inactivity during the periods of time when we aren't at the gym. For instance, someone who spent an hour on the stairmaster is more inclined to take an elevator over the stairs, or take a cab instead of walking to a destination, either out of fatigue or an "I worked out today so I deserve this" sense of entitlement.
Church's team randomly assigned into four groups 464 overweight women who didn't regularly exercise. Women in three of the groups were asked to work out with a personal trainer for 72 min., 136 min., and 194 min. per week, respectively, for six months. Women in the fourth cluster, the control group, were told to maintain their usual physical-activity routines. All the women were asked not to change their dietary habits and to fill out monthly medical-symptom questionnaires.
The findings were surprising. On average, the women in all the groups, even the control group, lost weight, but the women who exercised - sweating it out with a trainer several days a week for six months - did not lose significantly more weight than the control subjects did. (The control-group women may have lost weight because they were filling out those regular health forms, which may have prompted them to consume fewer doughnuts.) Some of the women in each of the four groups actually gained weight, some more than 10 lb. each.
Unfortunately, the Time piece doesn't disclose what types exercise (Weights? Running? Yoga?) the women in the three active groups participated regularly in, nor does it go into detail about the specifics of their diets (Carb-heavy? Lean proteins?), but really, doesn't this all just confirm something we all already know, that the key to losing weight is to burn more calories than you consume? Is it really all that complicated?
Nevertheless, if the results of this study have got you down, fear not — it's a virtual guarantee that another study will come along in the next few months to directly contradict all of the findings in this one. It's just the way things go.