If you're spending more working out and still not losing weight, fitness experts say it could be due to too big a reward for still too little exercise.
Although fitness has indisputable health benefits, it takes a lot of walking or running to burn off the calories in a donut.
Experts say, "people tend to overestimate the amount of physical activity they get; they work out a little bit and treat themselves a lot."
A report by the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation showed that although Americans say they are more active, it has not made much of a dent in the obesity epidemic that affects more than one-third of U.S. adults.
While exercise can play a role in weight reduction, without broader lifestyle and nutritional changes, that role is limited.
The National Weight Control Registry, which gathers information from people who have successfully lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for a least one year, reports that 90 percent of its members exercise, on average, about one hour per day (mostly brisk walking).
Healthy adults are advised to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week, or around 20 minutes a day.
However government guidelines are for cardiovascular fitness, not weight loss. Studies suggest 250 to 300 minutes of exercise per week may be the minimum to lose weight. At 150 (minutes) the best you can hope for is weight maintenance.
Experts contend if there's a success story for the role of exercise in weight control, it's in maintenance. It is difficult to shed pounds through exercise alone.
Since one pound of body fat stores about 3500 calories, you'd have to burn an extra 500 calories every day in order to lose one pound per week. If you want to drop two pounds each week you'd need to expend an additional 1000 calories daily.
That's a lot of exercise. If you weigh 200 pounds, it takes roughly 35 minutes of jogging, 65 minutes of doubles tennis, 75 minutes of brisk walking (with the dog), or 110 minutes of weightlifting to burn 500 calories. Multiply your daily exercise time by two if you're trying to sweat off 1000 calories.
And if you weigh less, it will take longer to burn off those extra calories. A 150-pound woman would need to spend 45 minutes jogging on the treadmill everyday to lose a pound each week. A daunting task considering that most people don't exercise to this level.
People should be physically active regardless of their size or whether they are losing weight. Moderately intense exercise done in as few as 10-minute increments two to three times a day markedly reduces our risk of all causes of mortality and heart disease.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.