beach, aerobic walking, cardiovascular exercise

Exercise Contributes Little to Weight Loss

Have you ever gained a few extra pounds and attempted to shed those pounds by hitting the gym? Did it work? No? Yes? Well, the truth is that for a while now, research has been telling us that that workout won’t get rid of that muffin top.

In Herman Pontzer’s article The Exercise Paradox in Scientific American, Pontzer discusses research about the energy expenditure of humans. Compared to people living a modern lifestyle such as those who work desk jobs, watch t.v., and travel by driving in a car, the hunter-gatherer people of Tanzania don’t burn more energy than Fred in accounting. How is this possible?

It’s not known for sure, but evidence indicates that energy is simply taken away from other processes such as cellular processes when energy is required for exercise. It is known though, that higher physical activity is linked to reduced inflammation and autoimmunity. Exercise takes away energy from an overactive immune system. Can it then adversely affect the immune system of a healthy individual? Can this strategy, is this strategy used to treat cancer? Could this homeostatic process be utilized to take away the energy required by cancer cells to thrive?

Of course, the highly-regarded test method to measure energy expenditure could also have some yet undiscovered fundamental flaw.


Pontzer, H. (2017). The Exercise Paradox. (cover story). Scientific American, 316(2), 26-31.

Photo Credit: MIke BaIrd via flickr, CC BY 2.0

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