How Exercise and Weight Gain are Connected

21 12 2018

Updated:  2/28/2020, Marc Woodard

Although your favorite fitness guru or celebrity may be the picture of health and you want to look just like them…  Keep this in mind, they make a lot of money selling fitness products and services they don’t necessarily use; and may actually cause you to gain weight rather than lose it. Which may be just the opposite of a desired result you hope to achieve.

Aerobic workouts good for the cardio Muscular endurance
Improve cardio Muscular endurance and fat burning results.

Regardless of exercise equipment and dietary products that guarantees weight loss by these professionals – The odds are not in your favor these programs will work long term for you. Why? Unless you have a customized fitness program relevant and specifically designed for your weight loss expectations, weight gain may be the result.

Relevant fitness programming should include individual lifestyle and cultural assessments that include: behavioral habits, medical condition/history, genetics, body type… fitness goals and expectation. For example, do you want to be body fat lean, increase muscle mass, or strength; improve cardio and/or muscular endurance and flexibility? The aforementioned assessments will help define, relate and apply a fitness program that’s right and will work for you.

For those whose fitness goal is to lose body fat – science shows us how exercise can add on pounds if other lifestyle factors are not considered within the programming process especially as we age. But for this exercise we’ll specifically focus on exercise and fuel source to burn more body fat weight.

It is interesting to note, regardless of the billions of dollars invested within the fitness industry our nations population is becoming fatter. So we are either becoming more sedentary, sick with disease, exercising incorrectly and/or our dietary and addictive habits – which also influence bad behavior.

Which is it? I say a combination of all the above. And this reality has a lot to do with not understanding the human anatomy and physiology and marketplace fitness and diet gimmicks that promise to fix us. In my opinion these health illiteracy issues should be addressed within our K-12 education system. If this occurred, future generations would learn to value a healthier lifestyle – which would help reduce the obesity and connected disease problems now plaguing the nation.

With that being said consider the following statistics.

45 million Americans now belong to health clubs, up from 23 million in 1993. We spend some $19 billion a year on gym memberships. One major study illustrates – The Minnesota Heart Survey found more of us say we exercise. From 1980 to 2000, 47% of respondents exercised regularly and then these figures increased to 57%, ending the 20 year survey. Even with 45 million people today using fitness centers obesity figures increased during this period. The Federal government’s definition of obesity classifies 1/3 of all Americans as obese. Those that participated in the survey admitted after they exercise, their hungrier and eat more. This is not to discount the notion that those who may not participate in gym activities may weigh more otherwise.

Let’s look at a significant study that specifically addresses the compensation effect on body after exercise and what this really means for your weight management program.

In general, for weight loss, exercise is pretty useless, says Eric Ravussin, chair in diabetes and metabolism at Louisiana State University, a prominent exercise researcher. Although exercise does burn calories, it also makes us hungrier. Exercise, in other words, isn’t necessarily helping us lose weight. It may even be making it harder.

The compensation Problem “ The PLoS (Public Library of Science) published a remarkable study supervised by a colleague of Ravussin’s Dr. Timothy Church. Four groups totaling 464 overweight women who didn’t regularly exercise were selected for this study. Women in 3 of the groups worked with a personal trainer for 6 months; Group 1 exercised – 72 minutes/wk, Group 2 exercised- 136 minutes/wk and Group 3 exercised – 194 minutes/week. Although the study did not specify the exercise routines, one gets the notion exercises were balanced between aerobic and anaerobic activity with a personal assigned trainer.

The women in the 4th cluster did not change their lifestyle activities, but did fill out a monthly health questionnaire. The results were surprising. All groups of women lost weight, even the control group. It is most likely the control group through the use of monthly questionnaires learned more about their health and thereby modified their diets by eating fewer donuts, muffins, Starbucks coffee, for example. Some of the women in each group actually gained weight, some up to 10 pounds. Church calls this the compensation effect. Whether exercise made them hungry, or they wanted to reward themselves. Most of the women who exercised ate more than they did before they started the experiment!

Church states, we all need to move toward proper weight control, but stressing and depleting the body’s muscles in short bursts using stressful exercise is not necessarily the best way to loss body weight. Also the brain may feel greater entitlement to eat fast foods after we’ve exerted most of our high intensity energy at the gym. Instead, energy would have been better served by increasing daily activities like walking, healthy food shopping, preparing wholesome meals, gardening, a balanced mix using gym activities, walking, biking, etc.

[Quote excerpts posted above, Published by Time Magazine, August 17, 2009, Why Exercise Won’t Make you Thin, by John Cloud]

Exercise Science shows us anaerobic activity during weight lifting activities increases muscle mass with less stimulation of the fat burning metabolism. Muscle mass increases do occur when muscle bulking exercise out-paces aerobic fat burning exercise. The goal of burning more body fat weight requires a greater commitment to daily aerobic exercise activity within the low-medium intensity effort. So on a scale of 1-10 effort, if you exercise within a perceived physical exertion of ~4-7, you burn more body fat during aerobic exercise.

Optimizing weight loss results while toning the body requires a relevant fitness training program that will work for you. For example, if you find an aerobic exercise program you enjoy participating in daily, the odds are you’ll experience sustainable weight loss success.

Walk Daily with a Buddy

For nearly anyone who wants to lose more body fat weight without experiencing extreme hunger spikes, a low-medium intensity aerobic activity such as daily walking, jogging or biking and hiking will help achieve the objective. This is because our aerobic metabolism prefers burning fat fuel during low-intensity, long duration exercise. During high-intensity exercise, the body prefers burning carbohydrates. The carbohydrates present a limited fuel storage source compared to stored body fat. Once carbohydrate fuel is spent through high-intensity exercise – the body feels hungry.

Regardless of exercise program chosen,

Having a balanced and nutritious diet in place prior to starting an exercise program is important to achieve the weight loss results you desire.

 If your not sure how to custom design a fitness and nutrition program to achieve a natural weight loss objective  – might I suggest investing in a professional fitness trainer or fit healthy lifestyle consultant with a degree in Exercise Science/physiology.

Once the encompassing being [mind, body and spirit] achieves a sustainable fit healthy lifestyle balance of diet and daily exercise… achieving any fitness goal is possible. Including loss of unhealthy body weight that has a direct connection with illness and disease.

Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, ARNG, CPT, RET. 2018 Copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Inc., http://www.mirrorathlete.com, Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.





Back Pain Relief Wisdom

24 01 2016

Don't let back pain prevent you from places you want to be.

Don’t let back pain prevent you from exploration and activities you enjoy.

Last Updated:  24 Jan 2016

The most common muscular skeletal weight bearing pain typically occur within the lower back for many.  Whereas soft tissue and bone, or musculoskeletal tissue becomes compromised.  Which include nerves, cartilage, disc, ligaments and tendons where localized swelling, soreness and aggravating and radiating pain occur.

Human studies and statistics have shown low back pain will account for more sick leave and disability time than any other single medical condition.  Nearly 80% of all adults will experience back pain some time in their lives.  It is for this reason it is important to understand how to take preventative and corrective measures to avoid, alleviate and timely treat weight bearing joint pain.  Also recognize the difference between common causes of back pain, severity of condition and treatment course options.

Weight bearing and repetitive physical work pain is often medically defined as an acute or chronic pain condition that may be caused by injury, postural imbalance, repeated physical activity and diagnosed as a strain or sprain, or compression injury, or Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI).  A Repetitive Strain Injury is also known as Cumulative Trauma Disorder (CTD).  Which has a compromised muscle-tendon relationship.  Some cause examples of these pain disorders may be a result of the following activities: administrative work, gardening, biking, walking, jogging, running, sports, commercial painting, plumbing, electrical and other laborious work etc.

“There are also chronic nerve compression injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, radial tunnel syndrome and cubital tunnel syndrome. In these cases, the spaces through which the nerves run are narrowed due to inflammation or fluids putting pressure on the nerves (Kriskarr 2012).”

Of course there are many pathological musculoskeletal compromise possibilities which could cause weight bearing or low back pain in vertebra joints.  Some of the more familiar diseases of the back are: degenerative discs [wear & tear on between vertebra space], herniated discs, [swollen, and irritated “overblown” discs], spinal stenosis [narrowing of vertebrae canal presenting sciatica radiating numbness and pain down the leg].

Off Road Trail Hiking Exercise.

Remove back pain and experience off road trail hikes, enjoy nature and get more daily exercise.

Regardless, our focus is not to play doctor or learn all the possible causes of back pain.  But instead to understand how to recognize and prevent unnecessary pain through prevention and seek corrective medical treatment when needed.

Poor ergonomic posture or laborious repetitive work or sedentary lifestyle combined with weight gain almost always put undue stress immediately on the low back.  And when poor work and activity posture, footwear and overweight conditions are not addressed, it’s just a matter of time before weight bearing joints begin to ache, strain and become painful.  If left uncorrected that pain will worsen, slow you down and increase risk of injury and put you out of commission.

The biggest difference between strains vs. “sprain” is the severity of injury and healing time.  For instance sprains are typically long-term injuries which may or may not require surgery and almost always require physical therapy and rest to alleviate the compromised soft tissue condition.

Most of us are familiar, or have experienced a strained [overstretched] or sprained tendon, ligament or muscle.  Sprains are often verified and substantiated using MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) equipment to determine exact locality, severity and corrective treatment for tissue damage.  The technology can see the degree of partial or full tear of soft tissue sprain often associated with significant swelling and bruising of injury site.  Whereas x-ray typically cannot and is mostly used to confirm broken and fractured bone and observe bone density health.

Many who experience weight bearing pain of the foot, ankle, knee, hip, back or neck don’t make the pain origin or cause connection.  That pain cause is often the result of musculoskeletal postural misalignment.  Whereas misalignment of musculoskeletal weighted posture starting at the feet cause imbalance and joint instability while walking, working and during exercise activity.  And this condition often results in multiple radiating joint pain areas up the body’s trunk and can cause a painful limp.

Like pain free body posture, A tree is only as healthy as the foundation.

Like pain free body posture without compromised food mechanics… a tree is only as healthy as the root foundation system.

The sole of the foot is like a tree root system.  For instance, when the soil erodes from one side of a soil bank, the tree may begin to lean due to a breach of ground foundation stability.  Then the roots on the opposite side grow and strengthen and absorb the stress to keep the tree growing upright.

Through time the trunk grows slightly offset to relieve stress on the compromised root system, but may cause the mid-line tree trunk to crack or snap during a heavy wind storm.  Similar to upright walking posture, if walking with a painful lower back caused by a compromised foot foundation, if left uncorrected this condition will have an effect on an number of distal weight bearing joints [foot-to-knee-hip-back pain].      Whereas poor foot mechanics like the compromised tree root system make it likely to cause multiple joint pain and injury possibilities.

However it is possible with corrective insoles and supportive footwear to realign and balance body posture and completely alleviate stress and pain of other affected joints, even the neck and shoulders.  In this case the corrective lift at the insole, or bottom of foot may realign the low back and neck vertebrae simultaneously while removing a painful limp caused by sciatica for example.

If any type of acute joint pain condition appears more frequent and severe…. “Pay Attention!”  It is important to remember weight bearing pain is often a result of unconditioned physical body, sedentary lifestyle, overweight condition and improper footwear, or disease.  The good news is it can be corrected if timely action is taken.  Like a tire realignment, corrected foot mechanics can achieve the pain free goal.

Recommendations to treat weight bearing pain before it becomes chronic

  1. If experiencing acute weight bearing pain:  a) “Apply Ice right away.  Ice reduces inflammation and pain.  Be careful not to use ice for more than 15-20 minutes, every 2 hours.  Even though heat is used to ease tension & soreness, heat might cause more swelling in the first 2-3 days.  b) “Place the ice on the painful area in a fanny pack while you are up and moving around.  Apply ice consistently as long as you have swelling and pain.”  c) “If you have diabetes or circulatory problems, limit applying ice and heat to 8-10 minutes.”  d) “Take medication as directed.  Common medications are acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen (such as Motrin) and naproxen sodium (such as Aleve).  In some cases, prescription pain medications may help.  It may take 10 to 14 days of taking it as prescribed to be fully effective.” 

Reference:  (Kaiser Permanente Brochure Recommendations, Items 1, a-d) 

Note: If you experience any abnormal pain seek medical advisement, diagnosis and treatment from your doctor immediately.

  1. Maintain Ideal Body Weight.  Simply enter into any Internet search engine, BMI (Body Mass Index) use free calculator, enter your height and weight.  This will give you an ideal of whether or not you’re underweight, normal or overweight for your current body mass stature.  If too heavy over normal body weight for height, you’re at increased risk for weight bearing pain.  Most specifically:  foot, ankle, knee, hip, back.

    IMG_1061

    Exercise comes in all fun forms and exciting playtime activities.

  2. Perform daily aerobic exercise to burn fat (e.g., bike, walk, aerobic dance exercise not less than 3/week @ 20-30min/day).  When heart rate is increased for extended periods of exercise, the body’s metabolism during aerobic activity burns more of the preferred fuel source from body fat.
  3. Balanced nutrition:  consume more fiber, drink more water and decrease total calorie intake daily.  Remove high processed fat and sugar foods and drinks.  Focus more on shopping and consuming fresh whole foods more in line with Mediterranean diet which contains plenty of fish, fruits and vegetables.  Avoid fried foods if possible.

    Catch it yourself it does a body good.

  4. If your feet are in pain, the likelihood of sustaining daily aerobic exercise activity is greatly reduced.  Seek a referral from your Primary Physician to get a diagnosis and treatment from podiatrist (foot specialist).  See if your foot posture is the cause of your weight bearing pain.
  5. Realize:  a) In order to perform daily aerobic exercise activity will likely require good insoles and footwear to offset pain and lose weight.  b) Don’t pay $300-$1500/year for custom molded insoles out-of-pocket from your podiatrist if you don’t have to.  First try inexpensive insoles at a local pharmacy center if your health care situation is limited in services, deductions and co-pays are high.  Simply stand on a free foot analysis machine and receive corrective insole inventory selection based on the postural hot spot(s) imbalance foot imprint.  And if the insoles remove pain it is well worth the effort and cost.  However, do see your doctor to positively determine pain cause and origin.  If you do get a referral to podiatrist, decide if you want to try the inexpensive insoles before paying the cost of customized insoles, especially if you have to pay over $50.00.
  6. Do you need surgery or other treatment? Ask your doctor about Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS).  “Electrical nerve stimulation is a procedure that uses an electrical current to treat chronic pain. Peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS) and spinal cord stimulation (SCS) are two types of electrical nerve stimulation. In either case a small pulse generator sends electrical stimuli that interfere nerve impulses to alleviate the pain (WebMD 2014). Reports show SCS use results in: 84% reported that their quality of life was improved or greatly improved, 77% had good or excellent pain relief, and 82% decreased their use of pain medications (St. Jude Medical 2016).

    Seek adventure, explore, get excited about life and move the body.

    Seek adventure, explore, get excited about life while moving and exercising the body.

  7. “Tens Therapy” electro muscular-stimulation can provide significant relief.  Ask your doctor about obtaining a Tens unit through health care coverage, or if covered to receive electro muscular-stimulation physical therapy sessions.  “Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a therapy sometimes used to treat localized or regional pain. During TENS therapy, electrodes deliver electrical impulses to nearby nerve pathways — which can help control or relieve some types of pain. TENS is often used to treat osteoarthritis and chronic and postoperative pain (Thompson 2014).”
  8. Tens units can also be purchased on-line, or provided by HMO.
  9. Acupuncture – “May also reduce chances of chronic back pain from occurring.  “One of the largest studies to date on acupuncture and chronic pain — a meta-analysis of 29 well-conducted studies involving nearly 18,000 patients and published in October 2012 in the Archives of Internal Medicine — found that acupuncture is effective for treating chronic pain and therefore is a reasonable referral option (Palermo 2015).”

If acute back, or any joint pain seems abnormal or Intolerable, or you’ve recently experienced an injury consult your physician immediately for diagnosis and treatment.

Citations:

Kriskarr. “What Is a Compression Injury?” VACUPRACTOR. Vacupractor, 23 Oct. 2012. Web. 22 Jan. 2016.

Thompson, Jeffrey, M.D. “TENS Therapy: An Option for Fibromyalgia Treatment?” – Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, n.d. Web. 22 Jan. 2016.

Palermo, By Elizabeth. “What Is Acupuncture?” LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 05 Mar. 2015. Web. 22 Jan. 2016.

St. Jude Medical. “Power Over Your Pain.” Spinal Cord Stimulation: A Proven Therapy for Pain. St. Jude Medical, Inc., 2016. Web. 22 Jan. 2016.

WebMD. “Electrical Nerve Stimulation for Chronic Pain.” WebMD. WebMD, 12 Mar. 2014. Web. 22 Jan. 2016.

Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, ARNG, CPT, RET. 2016 Copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Inc., http://www.mirrorathlete.com, Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.