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The Time Magazine Article. Does Exercise Really Help You Lose Weight or Not?

Posted Aug 20 2009 10:20pm

It’s probably old news to you by now, but Time Magazine recently ran an article that ruffled the feathers of most of my fitness industry brethren.

Of course, with a title like that, it’s understandable why fitness folks would be up in arms.  It’s akin to saying, “Why Bankers Steal Your Money” or some similar pejorative.  That there was a huge backlash from the fitness community is unsurprising.  What I find unexpected, however, is the willful ignorance of those so-called fitness “professionals.”  From ad homenim to straw man arguments to overwhelming stupidity , the reaction to Mr. Cloud’s article is flat out embarrassing.  And yet, I’ve read some rebuttals that are sensible and well-presented (wrong, but sensible and well-written nonetheless).

I even had one of my colleagues say, “Thanks, TIME Magazine, for making the job of the fitness professional even more difficult.”  Give me a break.

Look, the honest truth is Cloud is a terrible journalist who makes amateurish mistakes (turning fat into muscle?) and weak arguments, but that doesn’t make his central theme – that exercise does next to nothing for fat loss if you don’t modify your eating – wrong.

By avoiding discussion of this central theme, most fitness professionals are making themselves look shady and evasive.  After all, if exercise isn’t all it’s cracked up to be for weight loss, then why tell clients to jump on a treadmill for 30 minutes “to burn fat”?  If exercising for fat loss doesn’t work, and your livelihood is dependent on prescribing exercise for just that purpose, what does that make you look like?

Here is the brutal reality: Exercise for fat loss without dietary modification is an exercise in futility.  Working out feverishly, only to end up losing no weight is so cliche , it’s part of our cultural consciousness.

Americans are fatter than ever, despite exercising more than ever.  WHY?  If you make your living telling people to hop on a treadmill every day or teaching jumps in a Spinning class, I think you have an obligation to answer.

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