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Why You Should Exercise Less. | Davey Wavey Fitness

Why You Should Exercise Less.

Never thought you’d hear a trainer suggest that you should actually exercise less? Well hell must have frozen over because today is that day. Of course, there’s a catch.

A blog buddy recently linked me to a study by researchers at the University of Copenhagen. They sought to compare weight loss in overweight, sedentary young men by dividing them into three groups. The first group stuck to their typical routine. The second group exercised for 30 minutes per day. And the third group exercised for an hour each day. The exercises included running, rowing and cycling. Diets were held constant among the three groups.

While both exercise groups lost weight, the 30-minute group had better results and lost 8 pounds (compared to an average of 6 pounds in the 60-minute group). The control group didn’t experience weight loss.

So why did exercising less mean losing more weight? There are a few theories.

Each participant wore a motion sensor, and researchers discovered that the 60-minute exercise group moved less during non-exercise activities. It’s possible that the hour of exercise exhausted these individuals, thereby causing them to be particularly sedentary for the remainder of the day. Or it could be that those who worked out longer were more complacent, whereas the 30-minute group sought to be more active for enhanced results.

Cortisol could also be a factor. Cortisol is an anabolic hormone that is released as a response to bodily stress. It reduces protein synthesis, converts protein to glucose and stops tissue growth. Chronic high levels of cortisol have even been shown to increase abdominal fat. Cortisol levels rise as a response to your body’s stress, so strength training sessions and cardio sessions should be kept to 45 – 60 minutes and 30 – 45 minutes respectively. Because the participants in this study experienced 60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise, it’s possible that cortisol hampered their results.

Moreover, numerous studies have demonstrated the benefits of short but intense workout sessions – like high intensity interval training. These very short workouts have huge results – and they’re much more effective than typical cardio.

The takeaway is clear: Exercise helps facilitate weight loss. But less is sometimes more.



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  1. I’d just assumed they gained more muscle mass since they worked longer. Muscle weighs more than fat.

    • Than that still should have shown an equal decrease in body-fat. Sadly though, this isn’t mentioned so it’s hard to make that asumption without all the details.

    • Muscle weights the same as fat. Fat is simply more dense. One pound of fat = one pound of muscle.

      • It’s not about two ‘pounds’ weighing different amounts, muscle is denser than fat so a cubic inch of muscle will weigh more than a cubic inch of fat.

  2. A pound of muscle is the same as a pound of fat, they are both a pound, but muscle is more dense than fat. Better to have the muscle.