Exercising for Weight Loss a Myth?

22 09 2009

Do you recall seeing commercials or reading magazine advertisements where exercise gadgets and specialized exercise programs promise great weight loss results?  Well if you haven’t, let me tell you weight loss exercise products are big business for ex-celebrities in the entertainment and sports industries.  Remember the thigh and abs flex products that promoted inches will melt away around these areas while leading you to believe this would be the result of the entire body!  After all, the models used in the sales pitch appear to be perfectly lean specimens.

 Look around your house and count how many unused exercise gadgets, exercise equipment and books you have lying dormant in your home.  Why do these products lay around the home collecting dust?  And if these products did not work for you why did you not return the product?  Most of these exercise weight loss products guarantee great results by your favorite celebrity.  You were lead to believe if you follow the typical 4-12 week exercise product program you would see great results, well did you?  It is also interesting to note most guarantees have a 30-90 (4-12 weeks) day satisfaction return policy, no questions asked.  If the product didn’t produce the results was it because they actually didn’t work, or that you didn’t give an honest effort, or would it have mattered whether you used the product or not?  Regardless, the product is sitting in your home now dormant.

 Could it be you blame your lack of motivation to use the product that ran out the warranty?  Maybe you used the product as instructed without great, or no results, but in fact gained more weight.  Possibly the relatively small dollar amount of the purchase didn’t seem worth the effort to send it back.  In each example, you disregarded the warranty.

 In any case, most of us have been conditioned to believe exercise is the key to great weight loss success.    Product sales pitches that use the science of exercise as a weight loss product concept have been misleading consumers desperate to lose weight for years.  Yet those that are desperate want to believe the hype because they believe this premise is based on hard scientific fact!  Marketers and your favorite celebs take full advantage of desperate and emotional overweight people that are not educated in exercise science!

 Yes, exercise science is a real undergraduate degree program offered in many universities, also known as exercise physiology.  I have a B.S. degree in this discipline, so this is true if you’d never heard of it before.  These marketers are smart.  They know how to slant the rhetoric leading you to believe they actually care about you.  Remember, many of your celebs are banking on this pitch to make them more money as well!  Weight loss through exercise alone could not be further from the truth!

 What do the marketers know about sales, physiology and psychology that most of us do not think about?  They know how to target an audience and that the younger demographic will have a weight loss result that can be further promoted to increase future sales.  They know this is so because if a younger demographic with fast metabolisms actually works any type of exercise product program a good majority of these people will have some kind of result.  I know, you’re thinking I said, “Exercise for weight loss is a myth.”  You’ll soon have the full story, patience.

 Haven’t you noticed the before and after shots on the infomercials?  Most of these people appear to be between the ages of 18-35 years of age.  And as science has proven in many controlled studies, the human metabolisms before the age of 35 are pretty responsive to increased activity.  However, weight loss results within “any age” demographic seem to have more to do with the psychology of weight loss desire then does the use of any singular, or combination of exercise product(s). Desire to lose weight within any age range is mostly to do about motivating psychological desires:  The dating scene, interview for job, want youthful look back, vanity, health, you name it there are many reasons to motivate a person to lose weight through behavior and lifestyle activity changes. 

 In other words, if you have motivation and desire to lose weight, you may be more prone to reduce weight through a combination of lifestyle changes including the use of exercise equipment and/or products.  For example, nutritional diet changes, smoking, alcohol cessation, shift to healthier environmental-social influences-activities, exercise aerobic-anaerobic activity changes (type, frequency, duration, intensity).  The sum of the total changes typically has a greater calorie burn response leading to weight loss.

 On the flip side, science has proven exercise makes people hungrier.  And because of this compensation effect, what leaves the body must eventually be replaced to maintain body comfort equilibrium.  For most of us over 35, this is our will power weakness defeating our motivation to lose weight, or making weight loss goals more challenging as we age.  This is because the sacrifice of feeling hunger to achieve weight loss results becomes much more difficult on the psyches will power with age.

 For those that maintain great results for a life time after being overweight, or experienced a period(s) of obesity may have sacrificed some part of the overall health for the result.  What do I mean by this statement?  Whenever the body is stressed beyond an equilibrium comfort level to achieve long-term results; it’s not the maintenance of maintaining the weight loss results so much that stresses the body’s metabolism.  It’s the initial stress on mind-body that can create internal metabolic (bodies homeostatic system) harm while achieving quick weight loss results.  Yet there are others that never have had a weight problem and never exercised in their lives.  This may only be attributed to great genetics and/or simply living a moderate active lifestyle while minimizing risky behavior, or combinations of both.

 With continued stress the body may lose weight in an unhealthy manner that can and does lead to illness and disease.  I know all of you have heard of yo-yo dieting and the ill-effects of practicing such weight loss practices.  The goal here is not to discuss poor dieting practices, but instead attempt to help the consumer understand; exercise alone, regardless of exercise equipment, product or technique does not have a significant impact on your weight loss goals because of the “compensation effect” (calories burnt demand to be replaced).  Even if you are an aerobic junky, you must look at your entire lifestyle picture.  The picture of your lean weight loss results is more to do with your age, race, sex, genetics, lifestyle habits and behaviors. 

 This is not to state that exercise products don’t promote any positive health benefits.  In fact, we know that exercise lower risks for many types of diseases, especially within the cardiovascular system, prevention of diabetes and cancer.  Exercise is also excellent for body toning, strength, and muscular endurance, postural alignment which contributes to overall good health and pain alleviation.  Whatever your experience with exercise weight loss products the reason you accumulate these things, most likely you believe they will either work again, or when you’re ready to use them the weight loss results will be achieved. 

 The marketers understand there will be a small percentage of you that will try the program and turn the product back within the guarantee time.  However, this means nothing to them.  The discipline of sending back a product before the warranty expires is very small regardless of customer dissatisfaction.  After all, most of you have been conditioned to believe exercise is necessary to lose weight.  They also know you don’t blame your favorite celebrity because you admire them and they look fantastic.  The pitch people continue to mislead the exercise science weight loss rhetoric slanted in their favor sometimes using professionally paid sponsored credentials.  So your weight problem must be solely due to your inability to exercise exactly as your favorite celebrity or intended use as specified within the instructions.  Wrong!

 To add insult to injury, those selling the exercise products are banking on most of you never understanding the calorie compensation effect on weight control and will power.  This way you’ll continue to purchase the latest hype exercise products from your favorite celebrity in hopes that something may work for you down the road.  One thing is for sure, you will keep them fat and happy rolling in dough.  The cycle continues on.  Amazing!

 Does exercise to reduce body weight on its own work, or is this line of thinking a myth?  You decide after reading my next article. “Science Proves Exercise Alone May Promote Weight Gain.”

Author:  Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET.  2009 Copyright, All rights reserved.  Mirror Athlete Enterprises Publishing @: www.mirrorathlete.com, Sign up for your free eNewsletter.


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2 02 2011
Marc Woodard

Revised Article Post 2 Feb 2011, What do the marketers know about sales, physiology and psychology that most of us do not think about? They know how to target an audience and that the younger demographic will have a weight loss result that can be further promoted to increase future sales. They know this is so because if a younger demographic with fast metabolisms actually works any type of exercise product program a good majority of these people will have some kind of significant weight loss result. I know, you’re thinking, the story line is “Exercise for weight loss is a myth? And how does this relate to what I’m presenting?” Click on the title link and you’ll have the rest of the story.

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