I've been seeing a lot of articles recently in the media with headlines such as 'I lost 2 stone in 8 weeks and I didn't have to exercise' or 'How to lose weight this summer without exercising' or 'Scientifically proven - Diet is more important than exercise when it comes to losing weight'. It drives me crazy how much emphasis is placed on trying to achieve results with little to no effort, whilst at the same time demonising exercise. This only perpetuates the idea that exercise is a chore, too much like hard work and only required as a tool for losing weight - Aaaaaaaaarrrrrgh!!
Exercise is not all about losing weight. It is about so much more. Losing weight is just a small part of what exercise can help you achieve, should you need to. However, even if you are the ideal weight for your height, age, gender etc, this doesn't mean that you shouldn't or don't need to exercise. Exercise is important throughout our lives for maintaining a healthy equilibrium within our bodies. It becomes more and more important as we get older due to the body's natural tendency to retain more fat and lose muscle mass (this starts as early as 25 years old). The only way to counteract this effect is to exercise through lifting weights. As I said earlier, you may be the ideal weight according to all the charts but this doesn't mean that you are not, in fact, carrying too much fat. Again, to reduce your fat stores (not just lose weight which is a different thing) and achieve the correct body composition, you need to exercise.
Aside from maintaining a healthy and active body you also have the social and mental side of exercising which is very rarely mentioned. Doing any form of exercise is a great way to get out and socialise with people. Whether you attend an exercise class, a gym, become a member of a walking or cycling club whatever your particular activity, you are out and about, meeting people and interacting. Usually you find people you have a lot in common with, after all, you all chose to do the same thing. It lifts the spirits and satisfies your soul like nothing else. It gives you a sense of achievement and pride. It's scientifically proven in helping to deal with anxiety and depression. It is great for your mind, not just your body.
At the start of this article, I mentioned the focus that the media put on diet & nutrition over and above exercise. Don't get me wrong, nutrition is important too & if you wish to lose weight you need the right nutrition. But diet alone will not make you healthy. The only way to be healthy & happy is to incorporate exercise into your life. The only way we, as a nation, are going to get healthier is if we change our attitude towards exercise and stop seeing it as this terrible thing that we HAVE to do and start embracing it as the truly wonderful, life enhancing, soul soothing, pleasure giving experience that it is!
So, you don't necessarily need exercise to lose weight but you do need it for so much more!