Did you know that to burn off a single M&M you would have to walk about the length of a football field, or that to burn off the calories in one buffalo wing you would have to lift weights vigorously for 25 minutes? A chicken burrito with cheese and sour cream will cost you 210 minutes of yoga, and if you opt for some guac you can tack on 45 minutes more to burn that off, too. When it comes to calories, clearly it is a lot easier and faster to consume them than it is to burn them off. That is why you won’t be able to outrun a bad diet.
While it is possible to “exercise off” our bad food choices, it is not very practical. Why isn’t it realistic to exercise away every extra calorie? Most of us don’t have the time. It may take four minutes to eat a 350-calorie piece of cake in the break room, but someone who weighs 150 pounds would need to walk for more than an hour and a half to burn it all off and get back on track. That’s why the best approach to eating is to aim for balance: Eat healthy meals and snacks, be aware of portion sizes, and aim for at least 30 minutes a day of physical activity.
When it comes to maintaining weight, there’s a simple equation: energy in = energy out (calories eaten = calories burned). If you want to lose weight, calories out must be more than calories in. If you want to gain weight, calories in must be more than calories out. Each of us needs a certain number of calories to keep our bodies healthy and our cells functioning. In addition to these basic functions, we also use calories to walk, stand, and work. Everyone has different calorie needs, but the bottom line is that if we eat more than we use, we gain weight — unless we work off the extra calories. Exercise and activity can be used to burn calories, but how many calories you burn depends on a lot of different factors like age, gender, body fat percentage, and more. It also depends on how hard you are exercising and how long you exercise for.
Is diet or exercise more important?
Both diet and exercise are extremely important pieces when it comes to losing or maintaining weight. Cutting out excess calories by making dietary changes is the best way to promote weight loss; however, physical activity is crucial for weight loss and especially for weight maintenance. For most people, it’s easier to lower the number of calories eaten than it is to spend longer amounts of time exercising. It is important to know that doing both — cutting calories and exercising — can help give you lose more weight and maintain weight loss than just dieting on its own. Studies show that people who lose weight and keep it off over the long term get regular physical activity. In addition to helping us to maintain weight, exercise has lots of other benefits like helping you sleep better, reducing stress, increasing muscle mass, decreased body fat, increased confidence and self- image, and many more. Most importantly, physical activity reduces risks of cardiovascular disease and diabetes beyond that produced by losing weight through only dieting.