Why do some women put on weight after starting an exercise program? That's the question posed by an Arizona State University study which highlights the reality that whilst exercise definitely makes you fit, other factors do play a part in your weight. What this really draws attention to is that when it comes to wellbeing a holistic, lifestyle approach is perhaps necessary.
When a study throws up some generally unexpected results in the fast-evolving areas of fitness and health, it really opens up debate and makes you look at the bigger picture. Research where 81 women in their 30s, who were healthy but lead fairly inactive lives, were put on an exercise program for 12 weeks. During this time they had to walk for 30 minutes three times a week. At the end of the study 55 of the women had actually put on weight, with some bumping up their weight by 10 pounds.
So, does exercise make you gain weight?
While the research findings might be puzzling they by no means suggest that the exercise created the weight gain. So before using this as an excuse not to come and get active with us, remember that all of the women improved their fitness levels at the end of the trial. Health is not just about weight, it is about wellbeing and physical fitness; about boosting your immune system and protecting you against dangerous health issues such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, as well as stress, one of the biggest threats to many women today.
What else could have contributed to the weight gain?
Crucially, the Arizona State study did not monitor diet and nor did it look at activity levels beyond the study requirements. In other words, many factors could have affected the results, including:
- Women who gained weight were far more sedentary the rest of the time than those women who lost weight. Walking is not intense training and it could be that they were simply not doing enough to hold weight gain at bay.
- Women who gained weight were resting more after exercise, so that once again, they were less active in their general lifestyles and leisure time than they might otherwise have been. Similar to the point above, keeping active does not just stop once the workout is over, but needs to be integrated into how you live your life.
- Women who gained weight were rewarding their exercise with food, so that they were seeing the walking as an effort that needed to be reinforced with the promise of sweet and/or fattening foods. This pleasure-seeking categorizes exercise as an activity to be endured rather than embracing it as a way of life.
- Women who gained weight were overeating after their exercise sessions, believing that they were burning off more calories than was actually the case in reality. It is understandable that if you expend energy then you will work up an appetite but you do not want this to be a trigger for eating the wrong type of foods and letting portion control slip.
What is clear is that training needs to fit your personal goals and take into consideration many other factors. Alongside this, you need to incorporate a healthy diet and look at your lifestyle away from your exercise regime. With so much to consider beyond simply moving, you might want to get in touch and see how we can help you. just as we are helping other women change their lives right now!