Too much exercise can be a bad thing.

Beware the hazards of exercise!

Experts, including myself, have said for years that the secret to losing weight is … wait for it …

There is no secret. You need to eat right and exercise.

Am I right?

Maybe not.

A new study shows that exercise may actually make you GAIN weight.1

Arizona researchers found that a significant number of people who start to exercise actually end up weighing more than they did when they started. And before you say they were probably gaining muscle, researchers found the weight gain was due mostly to extra fat, not muscle.

Pretty disheartening, yes?

Well, no. The study also found that 1 simple strategy may improve your odds of actually dropping pounds with exercise.

What is it?

I’ll tell you all about the strategy in a bit, but first let’s take a closer look at the study.

Eighty-one healthy but overweight women participated in an exercise program. They walked on treadmills 3 times a week for 30 minutes at a time. They were also told not to change their eating habits.

After 12 weeks, all the women had significantly healthier hearts than they had at the start. However, almost 70% of the women had added at least some fat mass during the program.

Several had gained as much as, gulp, 10 pounds!

However, a select number of women did lose weight. And researchers found that if they lost weight after the first 4 weeks, they continued to lose.

Exercising and gaining weight? What’s up with that?

There are a number of reasons why we tend to pack on the pounds after we start an exercise program.

#1. People tend to overestimate the calories they’re burning during exercise and, in turn, eat MORE, thinking they’ve already burned it off. One study found that people actually ate 2 to 3 times MORE calories than they’d burned exercising.2

#2. People tend to move less throughout the rest of the day when they begin an exercise program. One study found that women who started exercising burned an average of 150 calories LESS per day on non-exercise activity.3

But isn’t a primary point of exercise to LOSE weight, not gain?

Absolutely. I told you at the beginning of this post that there’s 1 simple strategy that can improve your odds of losing after starting an exercise plan. And here it is … Weigh yourself consistently.

If you’re adding exercise but still gaining weight, then you know it’s time to rethink.

If the scale’s going the wrong way, it’s probably 1 of 2 things. Or both. You’re thinking, Oh, I can have that hamburger, I worked out today too often. Or, you’re taking the elevator more often than the stairs because you figure you’ve already burned enough calories at the gym.

Exercise is so good for you. You can’t NOT do it just because you think you’re going to gain weight. So get on that scale and make sure you’re on the right way to your goals!

1. Sawyer BJ, Bhammar DM, Angadi SS, et al. Predictors of fat mass changes in response to aerobic exercise training in women. J Strength Cond Res. 2014 Oct 28. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 25353081.

2. Willbond SM, Laviolette MA, Duval K, Doucet E. Normal weight men and women overestimate exercise energy expenditure. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2010;50(4):377-384. PMID: 21178922.

3. Manthou E, Gill JM, Wright A, Malkova D. Behavioral compensatory adjustments to exercise training in overweight women. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010;42(6):1121-1128. PMID: 19997033.

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  1. What is the strategy?

    • Hi Krystin,

      Thank you for writing in and for posting your question! The strategy is to weigh yourself consistently. By knowing your current weight and comparing your response to your exercise program. You are able to see if you program is either suited for you or if you need to adjust your approach. Hope this helps! Have a healthy day!

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