Fascinating article in TIME magazine last week about exercise and how it won't make you thin.
Some choice bits:
"The basic problem is that while it's true that exercise burns calories and that you must burn calories to lose weight, exercise has another effect: it can stimulate hunger. That causes us to eat more, which in turn can negate the weight-loss benefits we just accrued. Exercise, in other words, isn't necessarily helping us lose weight. It may even be making it harder.
After we exercise, we often crave sugary calories like those in muffins or in "sports" drinks like Gatorade. A standard 20-oz. bottle of Gatorade contains 130 calories. If you're hot and thirsty after a 20-minute run in summer heat, it's easy to guzzle that bottle in 20 seconds, in which case the caloric expenditure and the caloric intake are probably a wash. From a weight-loss perspective, you would have been better off sitting on the sofa knitting.
Could pushing people to exercise more actually be contributing to our obesity problem? In some respects, yes. Because exercise depletes not just the body's muscles but the brain's self-control "muscle" as well, many of us will feel greater entitlement to eat a bag of chips during that lazy time after we get back from the gym.
This explains why exercise could make you heavier — or at least why even my wretched four hours of exercise a week aren't eliminating all my fat. It's likely that I am more sedentary during my nonexercise hours than I would be if I didn't exercise with such Puritan fury. If I exercised less, I might feel like walking more instead of hopping into a cab; I might have enough energy to shop for food, cook and then clean instead of ordering a satisfyingly greasy burrito."
This time last year, I was hitting the treadmill like a madman, walking an hour every two to three days. Though it felt good, I can't say it did much to help me lose weight. If I'd eaten a bit less, I'm sure I would've had more favorable results, but fact is, I'm at a healthy weight and if anything, should work more on reducing saturated fat from my diet.
Over the past few months, I've been getting about 10 to 15 minutes of exercise each day (nothing strenuous), eat about the same amount of food, and have maintained my weight for the most part. I'm more than cool with this. Though the treadmill just sits, unused, it makes an awfully good coat rack.