NY Times: The Skinny On Exercise

Do you exercise? Got a gym membership? If you do you’re not alone, millions of Americans workout everyday in hopes of losing weight and staying fit. But exactly how effective is it? Jane E. Brody of The New York Times reports on new research compiled to help answer this question:
In the August/September issue of ACE Certified News (published by the American Council on Exercise), Ralph La Forge, managing director of the Duke Lipid and Disease Management Preceptorship Program at Duke University Medical Center, compiled a detailed analysis of the various factors that influence the effect of exercise on weight loss.


Mr. La Forge started by refuting the prevailing belief that since a pound of fat (when burned) gives off 3,500 calories and since running or walking a mile burns 100 calories, a person should lose a pound for every 35 miles. In other words, if a previously inactive person starts running or walking five miles a day, that person should lose a pound a week, all other things being equal.
La Forge doesn’t appreciate this brushstroke explanation:
This estimate fails to subtract the number of calories that person’s body would have used had it just sat still for those hours. Rather, for a 154-pound person, the net caloric cost would be 54 calories per mile when walking up to 3.5 miles per hour, 97 calories speed-walking at 3.5 to 5 m.p.h., and 107 calories jogging or running.


In other words, running uses nearly twice the calories used when walking at a moderate pace over the same distance. Your starting weight is also a factor: if you weigh less than 154 pounds, the caloric burn is proportionately less; if you weigh more than 154, it is higher.

Furthermore, if you walk or run on a treadmill, the aid of the machine diminishes the number of calories your body uses by about 10 to 15 percent of what the machine says you are burning. But, Mr. La Forge noted, there is a positive side: “The mechanical advantage of some machines enhances exercise comfort and reduces impact and musculoskeletal stress.”
The article is worth a read, La Forge goes to explain other factors associated with how people lose weight through exercises, like bodyweight and gender. In Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman explains exercise’s role in weight-loss and superior health:
Exercise is important, but if your ability to be active and exercise is limited, do not despair. My more aggressive menu plan will still enable you to lose weight. Obviously, those unable to exercise require a stricter diet. Some people have health conditions that preclude them from exercising much. However, you should till try to devise an exercise prescription to fit your capabilities. Almost everyone can do something; even those who cannot walk can do arm exercises with light weights and use an arm cycle.


Exercise will facilitate your weight loss and make you healthier. Vigorous exercise has a powerful effect on promoting longevity. If you have the will to adopt this plan and take good care of yourself, you will find the will exercise. “No time to exercise” is not an excuse. If you have time to brush your teeth, take a shower, or go to the bathroom, you can make some time to exercise. Take frequent five-minute exercise breaks—walk stairs or stand up then sit down slowly in your chair twenty times. Lots of people with no time to exercise or join a health club can usually go up and down stairs in their home or place of work. Try doing as many flights as you can two or three times a day. Walking twenty or more flights a day is an effective way to achieve your goal. Most of my patients have a health in their house—that is, a stairway leading to the upstairs floor, and most have one going down to the basement as well. I ask them to walk up and down the two flights ten times in the morning before they shower and ten times at night. It takes only five minutes, but it really works.

I also encourage patients to join a real health club and use a variety of equipment to utilize many body parts for maximum results. The more muscle groups that are exercised, the more metabolically active players you have on your team to help you meet your goals. It is definitely helpful to have access to an assortment of exercise equipment, such as ellipse machines, treadmills, steppers, recumbent bicycles, and numerous resistance machines. When you tire of one machine, you can move on to a new one.
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rosa - September 30, 2009 9:50 PM

Hello, I live in Australia and love your website! I am very concerned about my 18 year old son who has cystic acne. It is starting to wear away at his confidence and is he showning signs of depression. His GP has put him on a course of antibiotics and after two months there is no improvement. The next step apparently is accutane antibiotic which I do not want him to take. I am spending hours on the internet trying to find another way of treating him naturally.

If you have any advise, I would greatly appreciate it.

Kind regards, Rosa

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