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Reflections on fitness, wellness, health and more

An industry response to the article: The Myth About Exercise in Time Magazine

On a recent trip to America, I was browsing a newsagent at the Seattle airport and came across TIME magazine with the following title on the cover: "The Myth About Exercise. Of course it's good for you, but it won't make you lose weight. Why it's what you eat that really counts." And to top it off, there was a massive picture of a woman on a treadmill eyeing a cupcake! Of course, I had to immediately buy the magazine and read the article.

As I hungrily read through the article (no pun intended) I found myself continually surprised by some of the highly negative statements made in regards to exercise and physical fitness. Clearly biased towards not enjoying exercise, you’ll read the author finds himself working like a farm animal with his personal trainer, often citing how hateful, gruelling and unpleasant his workouts are. He also quotes a number of researchers in America with statements such as "In general, for weight loss, exercise is pretty useless!" I'm sorry, but where do these researchers get their qualifications from? How can they possibly make such a broad brushstroke statement such as that?

The article does address the important challenge that anyone who is trying to lose weight which is something good, I suppose. But, in short, the article explores how when the we exercise, we naturally get hungrier and eat more than when we don't. And when that is paired with poor nutritional habits, obviously the effects can be disastrous. The author himself writes: "You and I might know it (compensation) as the lip-licking anticipation of perfectly salted, golden-brown French fries after a hard trip to the gym." Excuse me? French fries after a hard trip to the gym? And the author is blaming the problem on the exercise? What about poor nutritional habits and education? This point is, of course, conveniently left out of the article.

Not a single qualified fitness professional in the world today will deny that without proper nutrition habits it can seem like an uphill battle to lose weight via exercise. And correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think there is a single personal trainer who would not be querying their clients' food intake should he/she not be losing weight after investing their best and committed efforts. However, in an era when the percentage of obese Americans (and Australians for that matter) is ever-increasing, and the diseases that are related to obesity seem to be appearing left, right and centre, is this article's message really the one that the world needs to hear?

While we, as fitness professionals, are clearly biased towards the benefits of exercise, I find it shameful and disappointing that a mass media publication as large and circulated as TIME magazine would entertain this kind of article, which is not doing a single thing to promote a healthy lifestyle. Is it just me or do you also smell a ploy to sell more magazines?

On an interesting note, the American Council on Exercises' (ACE) Personal Trainer of the Year, Jonathan Ross wrote a very insightful blog post on this very issue. You can read his post by clicking here.

What do you think about the sentiments of this article? Please use the comments feature below to share your thoughts.

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Posted by: Patricia Cameron | 21-Aug-2009 12:22 PM |

What a heap of hogwash!!!!! I have been running exercise to music classes for more than 20 years (now weightbearing and chairbased with the much older adult who sing the praises about how they feel after the classes each week).
As for the weight issue, I have recently retired from a job as features editor for the local paper, where bums on seats were the order of the day. In the last four months after working in the garden, walking down the end of a long drive to get the mail and helping run our farm, I have lost more than 5kgs in weight.
Simply moving does the job and classes which target age groups and fitness levels in a concentrated dose must do it more effectively.
I bet the writer of the article sits at work, then at home and weighs in at more than 100kgs!!!!

Posted by: Bec Josey | 21-Aug-2009 12:57 PM | 4 out of 5 stars

Definitely aimed at getting the empathy vote from readers. A very similar article was published in one of the Australian national papers last year and was brought to me for clarification by one of my clients! My opinion was much the same as yours and at least as fitness professionals we are in a position to debunk such myths. Fortunately, I think such articles are in the minority.

Posted by: Anonymous | 21-Aug-2009 12:59 PM |

I cannot believe TIME magazine would write such crap!!!

What does everyone from TIME magazine look like??

Posted by: Sharyn Wright | 21-Aug-2009 01:03 PM | 4 out of 5 stars

Unbelievable article written by an irresponsible journalist! No wonder we are facing an obesity epedemic with sceptics like him around. I can vouch that exercise does help to lose weight - one example is a 62 year old client of mine who hasn't been active at all for the past 30 years and over the past 3 months has been exercising 5-6 days a week including weight training. Her weight is dropping, energy levels have soared and her old 'injuries' are slowly disappearing. Why aren't more articles written about the results of 'real' people to encourage others to take up exercise? It is a much safer form of weight loss than fad diets, medication and surgery.

Posted by: Anonymous | 21-Aug-2009 01:11 PM | 4 out of 5 stars

If the article is coming from Time magazine, you would have to assume that it reflects the worldview of many readers. Ironically in the same week Scientific American Mind (July/Aug) had a cover story "Fit Body, Fit Mind - One more reason to workout: it makes you smarter.
The fitness industry has the collective challenge of selling both the benefits of exercise and specifically the benefits of exercising under the guidance of a fitness pro. At the same time it has to be careful to tell the truth about exercise and its role in weight management. We have attempted to do that at
By the way, at Healthy Inspirations we say to new exercisers that "you don't pay the price (having to exercise) - you enjoy the price (enjoying exercise)".
Being fitness evangelists is not enough. We need to empower our members and clients to become evangelists. We also need to be PR gurus in our community to get the positive spin out there.
Time wants to sell magazines. We need to be clear what we are selling and then shout from the rooftops.

Posted by: Benjamin Hoffmann | 21-Aug-2009 01:15 PM | 5 out of 5 stars

Ah hahahahahahahaha, OMG, you have to exercise AND eat right to lose weight? Who would have though. The author of the mentioned Time article ruins his own argument by saying he goes and pigs out after "exercising" (and I would question his definition of exercising) and then wonders why he can't lose weight? Being present in a gym does not then provide an excuse to lard it up cake boy. Seems everyone is looking for reasons to stay fat rather than face the fact that they actually have to put in some effort and sacrifice to save themselves from a heart attack at 35. "I've tried everything". Balls, try harder cupcake.

Posted by: Emma Kearton | 21-Aug-2009 01:25 PM |

This guy has completely missed the point about nutrition. You can exercise all day if you wanted to, but if you're eating cupcakes/french fries at the end of it then it's a lost battle!

I can't believe that there are people out there that think this way! I guess it's our job to change that!

I just hope that people don't get sucked into what this guy has written.

Posted by: Helen Quinn | 21-Aug-2009 01:28 PM | 4 out of 5 stars

Anybody knows that exercise won't help you lose weight over night and that
it will take determination and effort over many months to lose weight there
is no quick fix, if their was a quick fix we would not have an obesity problem
around the world.

If we exercise we must watch what we eat, because if we don't eat properly
we will continue to stay the same, I am a personal trainer and I battle
with my weight and when I do battle with it, it's because I don't eat the
right things even thrugh I train 4 to 5 times a week either in the gym or

If you go to America or Canada you'll find that even through people might
do a lot of exercise over there, they will also be overweight because of
the type of foods they eat. I was recently over there in June this year
and I will be honest, a month over there, I put on 4 kilo's and I am still
trying to lose that 4 kilo's and tone down, but I know if I do this quickly
I'll just put it back on again. We also have to be realistic when we make
our goals and our eating plan, we need to plan exercise we know we will stick
to, make it similar to our every day tasks, when changing our eating plans,
don't do it all at once, change or try one new thing a week and do it gradually
so we just make it apart of our every day life style.

We must exercise, cardio to get the heart pumping, resistance and weights
to help build and strengthen our muscles and bones and we must remember to
eat correctly and be mindful of what we eat. We can allow ourselves to indulge
from time to time, but not all the time or your weight will remain the same
no matter how much you train.

Posted by: Ben | 21-Aug-2009 01:29 PM | 5 out of 5 stars

As a GE instructor who in a former life weighed up to 140kg I can tell you it is not the excercise more the intake and diet that stops you from losing the weight. For many a year I went to the gym spent hours in classes for no or little impact on my size. Change of diet and intake levels and what do you know!!! There is alot of mind games also I think a degree in psychology would help every PT & GE instructor.

Posted by: Janice Jones | 21-Aug-2009 01:33 PM |

I really feel sorry for 'John Cloud' as he has really missed the plot with his article on exercise & weight loss. Exercise & movement to me is like waking up in the morning & without exercise everyday I wouldn't feel ALIVE. Makes the blood pump & sweating cures all those 'head noises'. The weight control that goes with exercise is just an added bonus to me!! When I look around at the obesity amongst us, I thank god that I am addicted to the high of moving often & fast.

Posted by: Scott Sanders | 21-Aug-2009 02:05 PM |

What a good read (both the Time article and the response from Jonathon). I agree with some of the points Mr Cloud is trying to make, however his article is written in such a way that these messages become lost in all the negative comments directed towards exercising. He does make a good point though of highlighting a problem that many people have – and that is their dietary intake. This is a common problem, with many people either being unsure of what is healthy to eat, or having a misconception that they lack the time to eat healthy. Now before you jump on this statement allow me to expand further.
The next time you are out take a look at how many fast food outlets are around, especially in shopping centres close to gyms and schools. Now take a look at the marketing we see from these places - just about everywhere now has “tasty low fat” options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The temptation is there for people to stop in here for a quick snack and order one of these so called "healthy options", thinking they are doing themselves good. Whilst it is easy to sit back and criticise this with our knowledge base, for the average person out there who does not have a degree\fitness experience behind them, they have to use information from the media to make their decisions as to what is good and bad for them.
This is why it is important for anyone in the health\fitness industry to inform people of the facts. The best weapon you can arm someone with in the fight against anything is knowledge – the more they know the more they will question what they read and hear from different sources. This is the reason why this article has generated so much interest and debate – if we didn’t have the knowledge about diet and exercise already we wouldn’t be questioning what the author has written. So whilst we will each have our own thoughts about the author, it has presented the opportunity to discuss this further with clients, friends and family to educate more people, so the next time something like this is published they will be the ones questioning the reliability instead of industry professionals.

Posted by: Riddle Australia | 21-Aug-2009 02:07 PM |

WOW!!! After reading the said article, which is backed by all those references to studies and damn statistics that the author quotes, I am not surprised he has come to those ill conceived conclusions. Quite simply - stop eating and you'll loose weight and yes, you don't HAVE to exercise to do it. No mystery.
But, that is not what the Fitness industry is about. We are here to have our clients improve cardio, skeletal and musculature structures. It is not just about weight loss. Improving fitness is a conversion process that requires some physical and mental commitment to an overall improved self. People that have a high BMI have got themselves that way by overeating, not by lack of exercise. Change of dietary habits together with prescribed exercise will reduce body fat and improve physical health and appearance. What is the problem here, if you want to loose weight – get your calorie intake below your daily requirements. If you want to get fit, look and feel better, live longer healthier – exercise!

Posted by: Emily | 21-Aug-2009 02:45 PM |

I haven't read the article, but do think that nutrition is more important than exercise in body fat reduction. That is, while both have their place in a fat reduction program, it's much easier to eat calories on than exercise them off (hence the people who can hit the gym for years but with no impact on body shape). I would add this: we have so many sound bytes in the fitness industry that have either not been empirically proven, or which are extrapolated from results in extreme or limited populations. For instance, we claim that through exercise we can increase metabolic rate, reduce the risk of various diseases, etc - but there are studies questioning many of these claims. I think it's important we keep abreast of the research, and not just apply mickey mouse science about the connection between exercise, nutrition and health.

Posted by: Nicole Burnett | 21-Aug-2009 02:45 PM |

The poor man is really quite confused isn't he! Of course exercise alone won't help you loose weight - especially if you go and eat fries straight after a work out! Although the majority of my clients find that they want to eat healthier after a workout because of the way they feel - could it be that the endorphins that are released while exercising are replacing the need to comfort eat? Lifestyles have changed, workplaces have changed, people have stopped moving because the world has demanded it, plus has thrown fast food into the mix. The average person has about 84 waking hours in the week, approximately 40 hours of this is spent sitting behind a computer... I am fairly confident in saying that the remaining 44 hours aren't spent moving.

Posted by: J Middleton | 21-Aug-2009 02:56 PM |

The author contradicts himself making a point that most people don't have the will power to resist the appetite increase from exercising.

If they can't handle a little bit of hunger pain post exercise, I'm sure they'll do just great sitting on their lounge eating two celery sticks per day....

However, my hat goes off to him. Before today I've never read a Time magazine article. Controversy definitely sells. Unfortunately, after reading that I wont be reading any more Time magazine articles.

Posted by: Laura | 21-Aug-2009 02:56 PM | 5 out of 5 stars

I totally agree with this article and it's criticism of what the Times published. The degredation of "exercise" was very offensive to me. I only hope members of the general public who read it do not feel tempted to shy away from their exercise regimes based on the information in that article!

Posted by: Rod FARDELL | 21-Aug-2009 02:59 PM | 1 out of 5 stars

This reaction is perfect. One it sells ( the magazine ) like so many things that aren't true and people love reading about it and how many magazines and books are there out there like this. Secondly it questions beliefs sometimes that we just take for granted because someone else has told us. Fortunately there is enough evidence to back exercise on all levels as a human form we were built to move. There is no doubting that and the consequences of not moving in any shape or form is also very evident. NETWORK congratulations because you have also drove people to your website another very smart and lucrative move to make people aware of you.

Posted by: Helen Quinn | 21-Aug-2009 03:25 PM |

The article is just stating what a everyday lay person would think. It brings us fitness trainers back to reality, the fact that we need to educate people to make them realise. You are what you eat, even if you do exercise.

Posted by: andy gibbons - personal best fitness | 21-Aug-2009 03:47 PM | 4 out of 5 stars

A Personal Trainers Response to the Article: The myth about exercise in Time magazine.

I think the article provides a thoughtful review of the relationship between fat loss and exercise as is increasingly being understood. Science is best served by a scrupulous examination of all observations and hypotheses, not by a blinkered assumption that we know what is right! The fact that you deride the researchers who quote in the Time article, “In general, for weight loss, exercise is pretty useless!", in the second paragraph of your response without any supporting evidence, means Ryan, that you are as guilty of making the same broad brushstroke statement that you accuse the article of.

It appears to me Ryan that you and the fitness industry are doing what members of established societies often do when confronted with a radical new concept: they attack both the message and the messenger. You yourself say that “as fitness professionals we are clearly biased towards the benefits of exercise”. Did you and the other seven respondents actually read the same article that I just did? Or were you all put off by the horror that someone had dared question your belief in the all pervading benefits of exercise?

The article actually provides a thoughtful summary of a lot of the results coming from research into diabetes, obesity, nutrition and chronic disease. Currently there is no compelling scientific research that shows you can significantly change body composition with exercise. This is supported by 150 years of scientific literature, by clinicians who actually work with obese individuals, and from such hard core exercisers as the crossfit community. Sure there are lots of reasons to exercise and any personal trainer worth their salt will be able to quickly compile a list of 100 reasons to exercise – the author of the time article has a couple of paragraphs on the benefits of exercise – but change body composition - no!.

To change body composition (lose fat and/or gain muscle) you have to bring insulin under control with your nutrition. If you don’t do that no amount or type of exercise will help you lose weight in the long term. Guess what – that’s exactly what the Time article finishes with: “I would reorient toward food and away from exercise” and ‘Its what you eat, not how hard you try to work it off, that matters more in losing weight”

The fitness industry would better serve its trainers, and more importantly the clients that come to see those trainers, by providing up to date information back by good science rather than this classic knee jerk reaction. A good place to start would be to read Gary Taubes 2007 book “Good Calories, Bad Calories” and find out what the science actually shows about weight regulation, nutrition and exercise. You might be surprised!

Posted by: Anonymous | 21-Aug-2009 03:49 PM |

the underlying problem is 'education' about food and energy. It has never changed... output > input = weightloss... The 'average Joe' who is trying to get fit, lose weight thinks you can train all you like and eat whatever you want and it will all equal out... unless you have the metabolism of a race horse, sorry... also, generally people are too focused on what they weigh... its only your gravity on the earth.. does not tell you if you are strong, toned etc... people forget if they had 2 women standing side by side in a bikini, 1 size 8 never exercised, eats whatever and 1 size 12 .. who has always watched what they ate, exercised regularly.. I can guarantee the size 12 would look better.. toned, shapely, walking billboard of health.. YOU can have 'skinny fat people'... also, you don't go into a dress shop and ask for a 60 kg dress... our clothes are in measurements... I think a lot of people regard healthy eating and exercise as a "beauty issue'' instead of a mindset of living better... longer

Posted by: Daniel Beveridge | 21-Aug-2009 03:53 PM |

What a world we live in. To have adults making statements like that.
What a sorry sorry example we are to our over weight youth.
Im afraid Time Magazine - your comments are both jurrasic and laughable.
Expenditure vs consumption. Kilijoules in vs kilijoules expended.
Its actually factual - daaaaah, are they stupid????
Expend (EXERCISE) more K's than you consume and you lose weight?
Its not rocket science.

Posted by: Jessica | 21-Aug-2009 04:26 PM | 5 out of 5 stars

This article is a joke!
It's encouraging bad habits and it's giving overweight people another excuse to stay overweight, not exercise and keep eating bad foods...because it's just easier.
Of course loosing weight and keeping it off is hard work. There wouldn't be a need for Gyms, fitness professionals and nutritionists otherwise.
I am so surprised that Time magazine even allowed this to be published.

Posted by: Emily | 21-Aug-2009 04:35 PM | 1 out of 5 stars

Further to my earlier post: I have now had a chance to read the Time article properly, and have to agree 100% with the remarks made by Andy Gibbons. In my opinion, many of the comments on this blog: (1) are testimony to the reluctance many in the fitness industry have to considering new or opposing theories; and (2) misread or take out of context some of the points Cloud was trying to make. My reading was that Cloud is questioning whether vigorous exercise is optimal as a population-wide prescription to encourage weight loss, and has come to the conclusion that it is not. He backs up that argument with reference to many studies and theories about why for some people, formal exercise may have no impact or even cause them to gain weight. As fitness practitioners, should this not be of interest to us? How many participants or clients are we training harder and harder, thinking if only they sweated more they would meet their goals? Could it be that these people would benefit from less formal exercise, and greater encouragement of movement and incidental exercise? I think this research could really help us to develop better programs, which achieve better results - but are we open-minded enough to consider changing?

Posted by: Jessica | 21-Aug-2009 04:38 PM |

I message to Andy Gibbons - personal best fitness

I see where you are coming from on this article, you make a really good point. But I don't think a lot of people would perceive it that way because that point is not that clear. There is too much negativity towards exercise in the article which over powers that point.
I agree with you wholeheartedly that your food first has to be altered before you body can function at its optimum. So many people out there with allergies, food intolerance's (to name a couple) that can slow the metabolism down. When these problems are addressed then the rest - exercise and eating the right should be easy.

Posted by: Robyn | 21-Aug-2009 04:51 PM |

I too bought the mag. thinking TIME was a pretty reputable mag. Never again. I laughed outloud as I read the article. I am testimony to the fact that exercise definately helps weight loss. I have lost about 16 kg only with the help of a switched on PT. I have a anthletic fit looking body and have keep the weight off for over 2 years!! I look younger, dropped my cholesterol into normal range after a 6.8!! I have the flatest tummy after 3 kids and have gone froma nonexerciser to seasoned triathlete!!! and now a PT!!! If only diet alone could yield these results!!!

Posted by: Stone Gye | 21-Aug-2009 04:56 PM |

The article written by Time magazine was not entirey accurate. However, the comments have caused significant discourse on the subject. It is positive that we engage in conversation especially when it can lead to actions which transform the nature of our health in a positve way.

Posted by: Taku Taylor | 21-Aug-2009 05:18 PM |

I think we have focused too much on the headline and not the essense of the story, It does promote the health benefits of eating less and moving more which is how we should be every day. Is also says that an hour burst in the gym doesnt do as much as incidental exercise did for us prior to modern time saving devices which mean we sit on our asses all day and think that half an hour of exercise now and again is going to help. He advocates everday movement not just structured exercise in gyms. Yes, exercise makes you hungry. Its true. But its not a free ticket to eat everything you lay your eyes on which is the mistake people make all teh time - been there, done that. Its unortunate that everyone will only read that exercise sucks and if it does suck, he needs to try someting different.

Posted by: Shane Philpot, Personal trainer Workout Indooroopilly | 21-Aug-2009 07:11 PM | 4 out of 5 stars

I have major concerns with an article that puts the idea into people's minds that you don't need to exercise to loss weight and that having a PT is something that is gruelling and unpleasant. Having been a client of a amazing personal trainer who helped me lost over 50kg (yes it was done with diet but also exercise!) and also showed me what a difference one person can make TO others lives that I became a personal trainer. We have the chance to improve people's lives everyday and that is what makes it so wonderful. We would all agree that exercise alone is a very hard way to lose weight so yes we do need to control the calorie intake but without exercise you don't get all the other bonuses that come from exercise. A strong body makes for a strong mind and with that you have the power to make the changes to your life to acheive what you want.

Posted by: Amy J | 21-Aug-2009 09:31 PM | 1 out of 5 stars

It is so disappointing and frustrating to read articles such as this that creates a negative picture with the general public. Any fitness professional will agree that exercise combined with a nutritional diet helps with weight loss. I am amazed at the blatant claims in the article in a highly esteemed magazine as times. I wonder who the American researchers are that is quoted in the articles? As PT, Group Fitness professionals we inspire, motivate people and create life changing experiences. Exercise is without a doubt a extremely important aspect of anyone life.

Posted by: Donna Hutchinson | 21-Aug-2009 11:17 PM | 5 out of 5 stars

The recipe for weight loss is a complex subject to tackle. There's no one right way to secure a permanent loss but often a combined approach of solid nutrition, exercise, mental focus, hormonal balance and chemistry. What works for one individual will almost certainly be different for someone else.

Can someone lose weight without exercising, sure? Can this same individual lose weight with exercise alone while still eating junk food, hard to say but not likely. But why are we focussing on weight loss alone? The bottom line is that the body is meant to move so we should move it and fuel it properly.

Articles such as this just make it harder for fitness professionals to do their job. Now there's going to be people raising their hands up and saying "see I told you I don't need to exercise". The article fuels the fire for the non-exercise to say they don't need too when clearly they do.

I enjoy a good cookie and yes even a chocolate bar from time to time. I've even used exercise to justify the fact that I was about to eat a high calorie, high sugar, low nutrient value food. Here's the kicker, I don't have a weight problem, I eat well 90% of the time and I get and hour of exercise on most days. My body can handle a treat from time to time.

However, this isn't the case for the majority of the population who eat well only 20% of the time, don't exercise, have sky high stress levels, carry extra weight and are prone to disease due to an unhealthy lifestyle.

In summary, all I can say is that I'm speechless to understand Mr. Clouds' position on exercise. However, as an industry I'm glad that it's disturbed enough of you to want to comment. We need to raise our professional credibility and counter any negative claims, images or stereotypes associated with our profession. I commend all of you for taking the time to comment.

Posted by: Allison McMaster | 22-Aug-2009 04:27 PM |

Obviously TIME isn't selling many mags these days. Of course they are writing this rubbish because their readership is dropping.
The people who read TIME- are meant to have a little bit of intellect. I can't wait to hear the feed-back the article gets from TIME readers themselves.

Posted by: Anonymous | 22-Aug-2009 09:42 PM |

Thinking outside the box here is another perspective.

What was the agenda of the writer when this article was written?

I know for a fact that certain individuals write in a certain manner to push their own agenda and/or axe to grind and/or to deceive the public in general.

The content being based on truth with a good dose of inaccuracy.

Posted by: Anonymous | 23-Aug-2009 02:53 PM |

One of my clients actually gave me this article to read last week and I found it really interesting and it could have been a really informative article had it been a little better written. I think the point that Cloud is trying to make is that if you are going to the gym in an effort to lose weight and are not seeing results, maybe you should also take a look at the type of food or how much food you are eating and stop 'treating' yourself with unhealthy foods on the way home. And if you don't like exercising vigorously at the gym for an hour a day, why not just try to increase the amount of incidental exercise that you are doing. He does mention a few times some of the health benefits of exercise, so he's obviously not totally anti-exercise. I guess, like many others out there, he just feels a little jaded that in order to sell memberships many gyms market the weight loss benefits that can come from regular exercise without educating their clients with sound nutritional advice. Hopefully as PTs we are giving a more personal service and ensuring that our clients are informed that if you want to lose weight yes you should eat healthily and may be a little hungry sometimes. This article is obviously aimed at overweight people who don't enjoy exercising and he's offering them a valid alternative way to lose weight - increase incidental exercise and eat more healthily. It's a shame that this point wasn't made more clearly and that he didn't go a little further by providing some sound nutritional advice or references to where people can go to get this advice. Many obese people find it very challenging or even painful to exercise, so losing weight through diet and more movement throughout the day is a much more realistic approach for these people.

Posted by: Adrian Woods | 23-Aug-2009 07:58 PM | 5 out of 5 stars

Many fitness professionals wil tell you its all about 'burning calories' in the gym. This is crap ( just consider how many Ks on the treadmill are required to 'burn' 2 or 3 Tim-Tams). Diet, and particularly the way it effects one's hormones (most notably insulin) is the key to weight loss. And by the way, fitness trainers should concentrate on fitness ( strength, speed, endurance etc.) and not on weight loss- skinny is just skinny.

Posted by: Anonymous | 23-Aug-2009 09:06 PM |

I think if everyone took the time to read the article properly it actually makes sense. Its not that the author was saying dont exercise and you will loose weight. The point he was attempting to make was dont exercise like you are possessed, just move more and more often and you are more likely to be able to control what you eat.
Also exercising to "keep fit" and exercising to "loose weight" are 2 very different animals. Maybe a few more so called fitness professionals and personal trainers could actually listen and learn a thing or 2. In the end doing what meets the clients goals and not what they themselves like doing is what matters.

Posted by: Michelle | 23-Aug-2009 10:17 PM |

Finally an article to make some of the PT's in our world come back to reality! this was written by a person that actually spends time and money to see one of us! This should be a big wake up call to all exercise professionals - we are in the perfect place to guide our clients thru the mine-field of "health & fitness" but in terms of what it REALLY means to our everyday client - NOT another Fitness professional. Promotion of health activity, understanding food energy better and support for our clients. Come on guys, we know this stuff and we should be doing a better job of getting it thru to our clients - even if it is one client at a time! If we already are, then we have our work cut out for us as there are more and more people in need of our knowledge....

Posted by: lizzie | 24-Aug-2009 08:39 AM |

Health is a major concern and improving fitness levels is undoubtedly going to improve your health, and this should be the number one priority, followed by a weight loss in clients.

Obesity has been termed one of the biggest risks of cancer according to the Australian Cancer Council so we should be encouraging all types of people to exercise, and to relish the exercise challenge....of (may I say --only temporary) blood sweat and tears ......and come out a better person. Surely we can't forget that you can't put a price on YOUR health.

Everybody knows how important thier health is, it's just some choose not do do anything about it (hey Y'ALL maybe this reporter wants an excuse to stop getting healtheir!!??) .

Despite the NO BRAINER choice, we should be encouraging clients to stay on top of what they are more than capable of achieving in terms of their fitness and life.

Posted by: Lloyd Shaw | 24-Aug-2009 02:49 PM |

What gets me is even in today's "educated" world people still get people hooked up to CO2 tests to try and find out how many calories they expend during some forms of exercise.

So far there is no known way of testing how many calories are consumed in Resistance Training / Vibration Training / Sprinting etc.. Is this done so some " academics " can pretend to look useful, because it serves no scientific purpose I know of.

The whole article was like reading something from someone who is uneducated and overweight and happy to stay that way.

Posted by: Kev | 24-Aug-2009 04:05 PM |

It is "lose" weight, not loose weight, you twits.

Posted by: L Widdup | 24-Aug-2009 04:10 PM |

As a fitness professional and mother to 2 young boys (aged 1 and 2) I strongly believe exercise and nutrition play a huge role in weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight. The big problem here is people who eat foods with no nutritional value (high in fat, salt and sugar) and expect small amounts of moderate to high intensity exercise to result in weight loss. A lifestyle change is needed - a focus on both nutrition and exercise. Cut out the diets and make changes that are to be continued for LIFE! If someone doesn't like going to the gym then they should find activities that they do enjoy and do them more often. Not everyone finds exercise to be a chore - I go walking most days with my young boys, even in the rain, and we all love it. I do prefer higher intensity exercise but for now it has helped me back to my pre-children weight and has helped to maintain my fitness even when I don't have time for a structured exercise program. I must say here that I do not eat junk food so although I eat more when exercising it isn't a huge problem. I view exercise as a very important part of my life and want to pass the enjoyable experiences onto my children - along with education about healthy eating.

Posted by: Marder Claire | 25-Aug-2009 04:58 AM |

The articale published in the Times magazine is an outrage, to say the least! From 5am in the morning until 7pm everyday, I am educating people and training people how to exercise and eat healthily. After studying 4yrs at university and studying the human anatomy and physilology, one would hope that you have enough knowledge to have such a career. Personal training and anything related to healthy and well-being is the most needed industry in this world, because of articles of absolute rubish that people write about. Exercise is hard work, and even harder is losing weight that has taken years to pile on, but these people will see benefits if they stick to a healthy eating plan and have the right exercise program. Artcles like this should be banned from publishing! More so, the author should be fired for producing such crap. Totally disapointed in the Time for allowing this article.

Posted by: Oliver Kitchingman | 25-Aug-2009 11:51 AM |

Oliver is the editor for Australian Fitness Network.

Here’s an interesting rundown of Time’s various ridiculous scaremongering/ circulation-chasing stories of the past few decades. Time may be shedding readers, but as this link shows, the latest fitness/fatness piece is not the first controversy-seeking piece they have written…

Posted by: Anonymous | 25-Aug-2009 07:59 PM |

The fact that the author, John Cloud, starts talking about exercising to "turn fat into muscle" a few paragraphs in to this biased and ridiculous article should make him lose all credibility with anyone, I would think!

Posted by: Mr. Fitness | 26-Aug-2009 07:59 AM |

What do you expect from a Magazine looking to sell advertising to drug companys like Merck (see Vytorin ad in same issue page 15). A nice story outlining how useless exercise is goes a long way to improving Merck's bottom line. Look, here's the deal, if all you want to do is lose weight it's simple STOP EATING. You'll lose a lot of weight real quick and you'll be real skinny, and then you'll die, but who cares, as long as your skinny right? Now if your goal is to improve your health, lower your blood pressure, decrease stress levels, improve mood, fight depression, sleep better at night, get off all your prescription medication, prevent Diabetes, remain strong and independent long into old age, and have a better overall quatlity of life, then keep exercising. Every organ in your body was designed to perform a function that will enable your body to keep moving in its quest for nutrition, stop moving and you give those organs no reason to exist. essentially, you let your internal organs down when you refuse to move, so don't be surprised if they let you down in return. Weight loss is one small side effect of exercise. You should Exercise because it makes you feel better and it gives your body a reason to exist, not because you want to be skinny. If your extreme vanity only cares about the weight loss effects of exercise, save yourself some time and money and move to Ethiopia, there's no overweight people there either.

Posted by: Uno Riis-Olesen | 26-Aug-2009 02:36 PM | 2 out of 5 stars

It is very well known that hard yakka exercise increases your hunger (appetite), we only have to visit real life people who make their living on exercise, Body Builders, powerlifters, Olympic lifters, footballers, gymnastics and the list goes on, it is also well known "if someone would bother to ask" that if theise proffessional athletes lived in JUNK foods there is no way they would ever have made it to be a top athlete. I am very shocked that any one person has the GUTS to print such nonsense in a world wide magazine like TIME moreover the shck is even hgher when the editor of the magazine approved this RUBBISH.

Posted by: Jillian Tunbridge | 26-Aug-2009 09:42 PM |

I love the exercise I do which is poledancing. It promotes having SO much fun and also feeling sexy while working out and getting fit and healthy. Combining this with healthy eating I have gone down two dress sizes in a matter of months. This without starving myself or completeley avoiding treats.

Posted by: Saghar Zonouzi | 29-Aug-2009 11:05 PM |

Well, as things are not just black or white and everything in moderation and moderation in everything works, I agree that keep being active most of the day (In any possible way) instead of just spending one or two hours a day on some days of the week and dividing the meals moderately during the day instead of having a whole meal at once will lead a better way to lose fat!
I also agree that having fun during work out ( Like taking part in Lesmills group esercises) will lead to a better result for loosing fat instead of making the body exhusted by putting too much stress on the muscles.

Posted by: Jesse W | 31-Aug-2009 08:46 PM |

I don't know where the facts for this article came from but they are totally incorrect. You basically just need to burn more than you put in (simple equation).

I usually eat what i want on the weekends, the only catch is i have to excercise 3 hours a day on weekdays. When i get under 5% body fat I drop down to an hour a day (it's a simple principal even cars run on). I started up the extra exercise a month ago recently and have lost 7kg (not hard if you put in the effort)

Posted by: Ramsey Macdonald | 07-Sep-2009 03:04 AM | 3 out of 5 stars

Cloud seems to be writing from an everyman perspective, using literary techniques to vilify exercise and use the fact that it increases your hunger as a scapegoat for his post workout junk binge. He does cite some research in the fields of obesity and diabetes that have shown that exercise is not mandatory for weightloss with respect to the subjects tested. Not being an endocrinologist, i have no actual proof, but one would have to think that, given obesity is now classified as a disease, (as well as diabetes) that there might be a reason that exercise is ineffective for these people. As a fitness professional or even a gym junkie, you know that exercise provides a release of chemicals that make you feel good, these then go on to affect other chemical reactions in the body that allow for the physiological adaptations to exercise. Take a step back and note that people with diabetes and obesity have not got properly functioning hormonal responses and voila, there is the problem with exercise, if you are insulin resistant your blood sugar is going to be abnormal and exercise may or may not help it, people with type two diabetes seem to have a good reaction, in regards to insulin sensitivity, when they exercise. Yet if these people are 'diseased' you get thee impression that everything isn't going to be working properly, that may have some impact on the ability of exercise to affect them, maybe Cloud should go and have a blood sugar test done, given that he has a gut that overhangs his bel and that abdominal fat is the LEADING indicator of a possible health problem it might be worthwhile.
To lose weight, one needs to have a negative energy balance, this is true, but if this causes your blood sugar to fluctuate too rapidly it will wreak havoc with your hormones and you body goes into starvation mode and starts going scrooge on your bodyfat reserves. A maintained negative energy balance, one that does not severely drop calories, maintained over a longer period of time will eventuate in a significant drop in bodyfat. To say that exercise is not necessary for weightloss is a fallacy, that would never stand up to professional scrutiny, as exercise can be defined as any activity in which the body is not at rest. So a negative energy balance can be acheived by eating hte same calories but increasing the energy output, that way you don't have to starve yourself. The other problem, which everyone else has touched on for the most part, is that what you eat is 90% of the problem, your body makes all of your hormones from the macro and micronutrients we get from our food. Proteins to repair and build cell stuctures, carbohydrates to provide an enegy source for our cells to function and fats to provide cholesterols and triglycerides for cellular membranes, neurotransmitters, hormones and a host of other vital functions. The consumtion of nutrient poor calories in the highly processed foods that we eat are largely to blame for these diseases. Unfortunately there are large fortunes built on the supply of the masses with cheap and convenient foods, especially ones that taste good or are highly satisfying, as most fatty foods are upon ingestion. The obesity pandemic that is suffocating the world one blubbery roll at a time is something that needs to be addressed and not quarrelled over in media and magazines, the aethetics of glamour nad fame are retracting from the purpose of it all, quality of life, looking good generally follows if you feel good and a healthy lifestyle is going to wonders for that. To put it plainly, have you ever seen an obese sprinter, marathon runner, cyclist or other athlete? No, you don't, so i'd be putting my money on the bet that exercise, whether intense weightlifting or a 30 minute walk, is going to contribute to weightloss and overall wellbeing, especially if you are eating healthy.

Posted by: Anonymous | 17-Sep-2009 03:14 PM |

The best way to loose weight is to become addicted to nicotine to suppress your appetite and get your calories from alcohol, which also suppresses your appetite. Is it healthy? NO. Do you feel good? Yeah, as long as you’re not trying to walk up a flight of stairs or just exist in a normal world. Live fast, die young. Shame about your kids being orphans though.

My husband and I were competitive kayakers for a few years. The funny thing was that after an event, I craved popcorn, he craved KFC. The thing is, it was a once a month event, so it didn’t matter if he pigged out on something unhealthy.

I think we have made fat loss too complicated. Just take out all the processed foods from your diet, minimise meat and eat a huge variety of fruit and vegies a day…not servings just try to eat 15 different types a day.

As for exercising being hard work -- I think he needs a new personal trainer. Exercise should be fun. Why would anyone want to do something they don’t enjoy for a long period.