My neighbor Paul was a heavy dude. He is not so now, but before the Covid-19 pandemic, he was. Paul never got infected by the virus, and neither did his closest family members and friends. Although he worked at the local hospital as a nurse, he recently tested negative for both the coronavirus polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and the coronavirus antibody test.
When the Covid-19 lockdown started in England around mid-March 2020, Paul started travelling to and from work on foot. That was because he feared getting infected on public transport.
The journey from his home to work he used to travel by bus was only two miles. Thus, he started walking four miles per day from Monday to Friday every week. He has been doing it for the past four months so far.
“Look at you happy man! You seem to have lost a lot of weight. How much weight have you lost so far from the day you started footing to and from work?” I asked him one sunny Saturday morning.
“So far I have lost more than fifteen kilograms. I used to weigh 100kg, but I now weigh 85kg. I am still overweight, but man, this walking and jogging thing is helping me mate.” He replied.
“When I used to go to and from work by bus, my body mass index (BMI) was over 32 but now it’s below 30. My blood pressure was high too, but now it’s in the normal range.” He continued.
After Paul said all this to me, I asked him the questions, “Did exercise help you lose weight? Did you try any other ways to lose weight in addition to your walking and jogging? Is walking to and from work better than working out in the gym? Why do you like walking and jogging?”
His answer was, “I do not know, but I think regular exercise helped me lose weight.”
After talking to my neighbour about his weight loss, I searched in peer reviewed science journals for the relationship between exercise and losing weight.
A low metabolic rate delays weight loss whereas a high metabolic rate burns more calories and helps you lose weight fast. When you go on a diet, you consume a small number of calories and this lowers your metabolic rate. Therefore, dieting alone does not make you lose weight fast.
M Gilliat-Wimberly and colleagues, 2001, examined the effect of regular exercise on resting metabolic rate and body composition (fat-free mass, fat mass, and percent body fat) in active compared to inactive adult women aged from 35 years to 50 years.
They found out that percent body fat and fat mass were lower and resting metabolic rate was significantly raised in the active women compared with inactive women. They concluded that women who exercise regularly can maintain lower body fat and a higher resting metabolic rate than those who are inactive. The results and conclusions prove and support the benefits of regular exercise in maintaining resting metabolic rate and lowering body fat levels in middle-aged women.
George A Kelley and Kristi S Kelley, 2013, conducted a systematic review of the previous meta-analysis on the effects of exercise in the treatment of overweight and obese children and adolescents. The studies they reviewed reported a significant decrease in percent body fat in people who exercised regularly. They concluded that “exercise is efficacious for reducing percent body fat in overweight and obese children and adolescents.”
W J Kraemer and colleagues, 1999, examined the physiological effects of a weight-loss dietary regimen with or without exercise. They found out that dieting in conjunction with regular exercise prevents normal decline in fat-free mass and muscular power and increases body composition, maximal strength, and maximum oxygen consumption compared with weight loss induced by diet alone.
Robert Ross and colleagues, 2000, investigated the effects of equivalent diet- or exercise-induced weight loss on subcutaneous fat, visceral fat, skeletal muscle mass, and insulin sensitivity in obese men. They found out that regular exercise reduced obesity (especially abdominal obesity) and insulin resistance in men.
Stephen P. Messier and colleagues, 2015, investigated the effects of a combined dietary and exercise intervention on weight in older obese adults with knee osteoarthritis. They also compared the effects of exercise and dietary therapy with exercise alone on gait, strength, knee pain, biomarkers of cartilage degradation, and physical function.
They found out that weight loss can be achieved and sustained in obese people with osteoarthritis of the knee through dietary and exercise intervention. The researchers also found out that regular exercise and combined weight loss and exercise regimens lead to improvements in pain, disability, and performance.
Besides helping you lose weight, regular exercise has got many other health benefits including building and maintaining strong muscles and bones, making you feel happier, increasing your energy levels, and reducing your risk of chronic diseases.
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