1. Exercise zaps belly fat.
Countless studies, numerous experts who study exercise,
and the millions of people who have lost weight all attest
to the fact that working out works. "Exercise is absolutely
essential for dropping weight and maintaining weight loss,"
says FITNESS advisory board member Michele S. Olson,
Ph.D., professor of exercise science at Auburn University
Montgomery. Here's what exercise does-and how it does it-to
keep you healthy, happy and slim.
It's the easiest way to beat the bulge, period. "Regular
moderate to high
intensity aerobic exercise
has the greatest impact on
reducing ab fat-the dangerous fat that ups your risk of diabetes
and heart disease," says Olson. Exercise is the ultimate
middle manager because it lowers cortisol levels, a hormone
that has been linked to ab fat. In fact, women with the most
cortisol in their system have higher BMIs and bigger bellies
than those with moderate amounts of the hormone, found a University
of California at San Francisco study.
Reduces Dangerous Intra-Abdominal Fat
Shrinks Abdominal Fat Cells
2. Exercise controls calories.
"It's pretty simple: You need to burn more calories than
you consume in order to lose weight," says Nancy Snyderman,
M.D., a FITNESS advisory board member, editor-in-chief of
BeWell.com and chief medical editor for NBC news. Regular
exercise blasts excess calories that would otherwise be stored
as fat. "Plus, you continue to burn calories even in
the hours following your workout," says Dr. Snyderman.
Your Daily Energy Requirement
3. Exercise keeps lost pounds MIA.
"Ninety percent of people who have successfully lost
weight and kept it off for a year do about an hour of physical
activity a day," says John Porcari, Ph.D, a FITNESS advisory
board member and a professor of exercise and sports medicine
at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Exercise is even
prescribed by docs for people who have undergone weight loss
surgery to help them hold onto their newly thin figures.
4. Exercise boosts metabolism.
6. Exercise curbs emotional eating.
Yes, you'll lose fat when you diet without exercising,
but you'll also lose muscle, which means you'll burn fewer
calories. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism
and the more calories you'll torch.
vs. Fat: Measure What Matters
5. Exercise trims inches.
The number on the scale doesn't tell the whole truth,
says FITNESS advisory board member, Jari Love a certified
personal trainer and fitness DVD star: "When you
shed fat and gain muscle you may lose inches and drop
sizes without losing actual pounds." For instance,
if you gain 3 pounds of lean muscle and lose 4 pounds
of fat, you've actually experienced a 7-pound improvement
in your body condition, despite the scale only showing
1 pound of weight loss.
7. Exercise creates a healthy chain reaction.
"Working out has been proven time
and time again to help regulate mood, which has a direct
effect on people who eat when they're stressed or upset,"
says Robert E. Thayer, Ph.D., a professor of psychology
at California State University, Long Beach. Translation:
When you're already in your happy place you don't need Ben
& Jerry to lead the way.
Eaters Have The Hardest Time With Dieting
8. Exercise brings on the fun.
There's a reason you find juice bars at the gym: "Healthy
habits tend to cluster together," says Boston-based
psychologist, Eric Endlich, Ph.D. "When people make
positive changes, like getting more exercise, they tend
to work on other health improvements as well, such as
eating better." The result? Weight loss.
9. Exercise stops hunger.
10. Exercise ups energy.
Let's face it: Rock-climbing is way more exciting than
eating a celery stick. That's why it's easier to be active
to stay slim than to maintain a strict diet. "If
you look at people who incorporate exercise successfully
in their lives, they've found something they truly enjoy,"
says Dr. Snyderman.
Never Too Old to Exercise
Regular physical activity increases stamina by boosting
the body's production of energy-promoting neurotransmitters,
studies show. That pep gives you even more motivation
to get moving and shed pounds. When was the last time
diet alone did all that?