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why you shouldn't join the gym to lose weight

Yes of course you can lose weight in the gym, and many people do. But if losing weight is your ONLY TARGET, and your only reason for exercising, what will happen when the weight loss results begin to plateau??

For most people, if they get the weight loss they require, or don't get the weight loss, they pack it in and stop training. So either way, win or lose, you are setting yourself up to eventually lose. Why would I write such a negative thought when people are desperately trying to lose weight and get back in shape? After all I'm a Personal Trainer, and should be encouraging people in every positive way imaginable. But bear with me.


Last week I hopped on the cross trainer (elliptical) for 5 mins doing a warm up. I was fairly out of breath and went pretty fast. Then I looked down at the monitor and it read "Calories Burned = 45 Kcal". If I was new to the gym, I would without a doubt lose my sh*t!! Bearing in mind that a chocolate bar is 250 calories and a Big Mac Meal is 1,000 calories, this number seems incredibly small. Personally, I don't feel machines should come with the calorie counter as it can be a bit demoralising and I prefer to go off the guideline that for every 60 minutes you exercise you burn 300-500 calories depending on the intensity. For calories, we need to look at the overall picture of what you burn in a day & week in order to track progress, and prevent ourselves from getting bogged down in the tiny details. But in a addition to burning calories or weight loss, please see below for some of the other benefits of exercising regularly:


1. Exercise can make you feel happier

Now granted if your training sessions involve 20 burpees you won't be very happy (at that moment at least!), but in general exercise will make you feel happier. A huge improvement in mood is one of the first responses customers experience after their first few weeks back in the gym. Exercise has been shown to improve your mood and decrease feelings of depression, anxiety and stress. It produces changes in the parts of the brain that regulate stress and anxiety. Additionally, exercise can increase the production of endorphins, which are known to help produce positive feelings and reduce the perception of pain. It can also help them be more aware of their mental state and practice distraction from their fears. Interestingly, it doesn’t matter how intense your workout is. It seems that your mood can benefit from exercise no matter the intensity of the physical activity.

2. it can increase your energy levels

People who start exercising will also report an increase in their energy levels from day to day, including the day after exercise. If you imagine your body like a car. If you keep it parked up outside the house everyday for a year, the battery drains, pipes get clogged up, and you may have trouble starting it. It's not going to run as smooth as if you had been driving it everyday. Our muscles and internal organs/arteries are the same. They need to move regularly and be tested on a weekly basis otherwise they will start to slow down.

Beginning to exercise after a few weeks or months off can be like igniting a fire in our body, like a huge trigger switch is flicked "on" and kicks us back into gear. Just be aware that if you are exhausted it means you are either training too hard or too often so take this as a sign to take a couple of rest days.

3. long term health benefits

The long term health benefits of exercise have been proven time and time again. If you want to reduce your risk of developing serious illnesses, or maintain a healthy body into old age it's a no brainer that exercise is the best medicine. Below are some of the figures from a 2019 NHS Report on the results observed by people who regularly exercise:

  • 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke

  • 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes

  • 50% lower risk of colon cancer

  • 20% lower risk of breast cancer

  • 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis

  • 30% lower risk of depression

  • 30% lower risk of dementia


4. improve joint strength & Muscle mass

At around the age of 30 we lose muscle mass at a rate of about 3-5% per year due to aging. Resistance training can help maintain our muscle mass for as long as possible and thus will keep our body fat % pretty low (if we lose 30% of our muscle then the food we eat will be stored in the body and converted to fat instead of muscle).

In addition to the muscle tone of our body just 2 sessions of 30 minutes per week are enough to maintain good joint health and bone density. This has a number of benefits including less risk of injury, less occurrence back pain, decreased risk of Osteoporosis.


5. improved sleep

Struggling to sleep? Regular physical exercise can help you fall asleep faster, get better sleep, and also get you into your deep sleep (REM Cycle) for longer. The extra energy burned during exercise helps stimulate the recovery process when we are going to sleep, and as a result improves our overall sleep quality.

As little as 2 hours exercise per week can improve our sleep quality by up to 60%. This is also hugely beneficial for the elderly, who tend to be affected by sleep disorders. Just don't exercise too close to bed time as this may leave you too energised to go to sleep.

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