Exercise Won't Make You Thin...

Are you exercising because you want to be thinner? Get lean? Get toned? Have abs? In that case, sorry, but it's likely not going to work. Exercise in general just isn't that great for weight loss, food control is by far more effective. 

Jeez, now you tell me. Why in cripes name do I even bother?  We'll just stop, right?

Nah, sorry, you know perfectly well that wasn't where I was going with this. Burning calories is the least important thing exercise does... So it's better if you love it for other reasons.

It could be that exercise is making you, stronger, more enduring, faster, bendier, or more agile. It could be that you are loving seeing your performance improvements. Exercise is at its best when you love the form of it that you're doing. That might be walking or it might be MMA fighting. Either way you will observe improvements- your thighs will firm up with extra muscle, your friends will suggest walking up a hill and it will seem feasible when before it seemed impossible, you'll land that kick. 

If you exercise regularly you will find you can concentrate more. Exercise has been proven in many studies to make you smarter; boosting memory and problem solving among other properties of intelligence. I also have personal anecdata on this- all my PhD lab colleagues work out. A lot. They are beating the nerd stereotype for sure. 

Paradoxically, you may also need less sleep and have more energy. Exercise boosts certain neurotransmitters- the ones that make you happier, more confident, buoyant- and clears others  to reduce stress (shout out to villainous cortisol). It's no secret that lots of people use exercise as therapy, use it to clear the cobwebs out. It's definitely good for self esteem. When I am exercising a lot I love myself better, and I love myself for better reasons: the ability to run long or climb high. Check out this info graphic from Green People on the effects of exercise on self-esteem: 

From Green People

You could love exercise because at the end of the day it will make you live longer and make you live healthily for longer. Exercise boosts the immune system and drastically reduces your chance of lots of diseases. Exercise improves your sleep too, and better sleep means better health. Just check out these stats from the NHS:

It's medically proven that people who do regular physical activity have:
  • up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke 
  • up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer 
  • up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer
  • a 30% lower risk of early death
  • up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis
  • up to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture
  • a 30% lower risk of falls (among older adults)
  • up to a 30% lower risk of depression
  • up to a 30% lower risk of dementia

If you really want to change your weight, you should look into what you eat. That's the hard truth of it. However firstly, remember extreme diets are not the way to do it. They just aren't worth the psychological damage. 10lbs isn't worth the obsession, or the food diarising, or the demonification of perfectly innocent tasty snacks. But please, please, also exercise. It can bring a hella lotta joy into your life if you only embrace it. 


So, why do you exercise? How many reasons can you find to get out there?

Post written by Scallywag and published on Scallywag Sprints on 26/04/16


  1. Definitely agree. When I lost my 6 stone I did no exercise whatsoever, I just changed what I ate. Now that I exercise 6 days a week, I've gained back 3 stone! Still there are so many benefits from exercise which are more important to me than losing weight.

    1. Absolutely- I'm glad you found the joy in exercise (and congratulations on your weight loss!)

  2. Great read! It’s funny people always ask me if I lose weight when I’m marathon training and always look surprised/ disappointed when I tell them my weight's either stayed exactly the same or even gone up. I gave up a long time ago with the idea of exercising for aesthetics, it’s just not that important to me, and is also counterproductive to self esteem as realistically my body doesn’t change that much. I just love the feeling of being fit and healthy and the buzz of a workout and the fresh air. For example, today I swam a mile and i’m still bouncing off the walls! xxx