Is Exercise The Most Important Factor When Treating Obesity?


Exercise For Weight Loss
Exercise For Weight Loss
Numerous health-related conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, some types of cancer, and musculoskeletal disorders, are linked to an increased prevalence of obesity, making it a major global health issue. 

Compared to interventions that focus solely on exercise, studies that looked at the effect of combined physical activity and calorie-restricting diets on weight loss revealed greater weight loss.

Obesity can be characterized as an ongoing irregularity between food intake and energy expenditure. The obesity symbolizes excess body fat in a large amount which may be the cause of health impairment. In other words we can say that obesity results in when calorie intake is more than the energy expenditure.

A lack of physical activity is thought to be a major contributor to the obesity. Obesity is linked with many detrimental diseases such as coronary artery disease, stroke, diabetes, hypertension, and lipid disorders. Studies demonstrate that intentional weight loss results in many cardiovascular health benefits, including improved glucose control, decreased blood pressure, and improved dyslipidemia.

The risk of other morbidity and mortality also increases with increase in obesity. Excess weight and obesity reduces quality of life independent of age, sex or ethnicity. Emerging evidence supports the idea that a lifestyle-modification program which includes an increase in physical activity and a balanced diet can reduce obesity as well as the risk of obesity-related comorbid conditions regardless of minimal or no weight loss.

How can we treat obesity? To answer that, there are many options varying from diet management to aerobics to surgery (Bariatric surgery, Sleeve gastrectomy etc.).

Is exercise the most important factor when treating obesity?

This article is to underline the role of physical activity on weight loss. Is exercise the most important factor when treating obesity? Is the diet management alone or the physical activity alone is satisfactory or it should be combination of both. Why is exercise more important than weight loss?

The role of physical activity and diet control is widely discussed for management of obesity. Should I adhere to physical activities only without modifying my diet? Will a combination of exercise plus diet plan produce a more significant impact on my weight loss? 

Researcher are regularly studying and trying to solve these questions. In a study by Victoria & Holly published in Nature Clinical Practice Endocrinology & Metabolism suggests that significant weight reduction can be accomplished with physical activity alone when the suitable volume of exercise is endorsed and energy intake is held consistent but for some overweight or obese people this system isn't adequate as the volume of exercise required is a challenging task. 

Furthermore, a combination of dietary limitation and physical activity can moderately improve weight loss as compared with diet alone; however, dietary restriction alone can cause weight reduction in overweight and obese individuals.

A review article by Irfan et al was published in Journal of Obesity & Weight Loss Therapy.

They compared different weight management strategies for example, Aerobic Exercise Alone, Aerobic Plus Resistance Exercise Alone, Aerobic Exercise vs. Diet, and Aerobic Exercise Plus Diet vs. Diet Alone etc. Per their review several studies show that aerobic (walking, biking or jogging on a treadmill) exercise plus diet control and diet control alone can result in weight loss. 

Per this review weight loss can occur through either a reduction in caloric intake (diet) or an increase in energy expenditure (exercise). Resistance exercise has not been shown to either cause weight loss or prevent regain of weight.

Few studies have considered the effects of exercise timing on weight loss. A secondary analysis was conducted by Erik et al on this. There were overweight and obese young adults who completed a 10-month moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic exercise program divided into three groups namely Early-EX, Late-EX, and Sporadic-EX groups. 

This study, combined with the results of previous studies, supports the hypothesis that engaging in morning exercise may result in more weight loss compared to engaging in a similar amount of exercise later in the day.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA), American Academy of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), and National Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics all recommend exercise as an integral part of any weight loss program. American College of Sports Medicine and the ADA states that the “recommended levels of physical activity (up to 60 min/day) may help produce weight loss when relying on exercise alone for weight loss.” 

The 2016 AACE and the American College of Endocrinology comprehensive clinical practice guidelines recommends for “aerobic training of ≥150 min/week of moderate intensity.

Weight Loss
Weight Loss
Counselling plays a major role in weight loss program. Health care provider should counsel and encourage their patients to adapt the lifestyle changes. Patients should be counselled about the obesity and its associated health risks which can be reduced due to an increase in physical activity with or without weight loss.


From the above discussion, we can conclude that diet alone and physical activity plus diet management can be beneficial in weight reduction. Even though some studies show that there is no weight loss when physical activity alone was in weight loss program but physical activity is necessary to reduce other comorbid conditions. 

A number of studies have been done to address the effectiveness of Physical activity or exercise. Although, physical activity increases energy expenditure, cardiovascular endurance, musculoskeletal strength and flexibility yet it is debatable if physical activity alone can contribute in weight reduction. However, there is no doubt that physical activity or exercise plays a major role to combat other comorbid conditions associated with obesity. Therefore, it is highly advisable for an obese person to continue physical activity.

Regaining of weight after weight reduction is one of the main difficulties which may be seen after or during obesity management. For a long time, regular exercise has been promoted as a method for maintaining weight loss. 

For those who are able to implement and stick to a regular exercise routine, exercise is likely to be a very effective strategy for maintaining weight loss. Any weight-loss or weight-maintenance program needs people to be active. Your body burns more calories when you exercise. Additionally, weight loss occurs when you burn more calories than you consume.

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