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Exercise and Diet: What Are the Psychological Benefits of Exercise?

Posted Jan 24 2010 2:00am

The evidence of physical activity's beneficial effect on losing the weight is unclear. Some studies suggest that improving eating habits along with increasing physical activity is more effective for losing the weight than simply changing what you eat. Other studies show that exercise has a beneficial effect on maintenance of the weight you've lost, but not on weight loss itself.

However, on the psychological side (the Maria's Last Diet side), exercise is good for the process of losing weight due to factors having nothing to do with the actual physiology of weight loss.

Here are some pluses on this psychological side:

  • First, exercise can be a healthy alternative to eating. It can focus your energy, take it away from food, and center it on an activity that is at odds with overeating.
  • Then, exercise can put you in touch with your body--or back in touch--since many women who are overweight have mentally and emotionally abandoned their own bodies. When you exercise, you feel what it's like to move your body in one way or another. You can throw off the limitations being overweight may be putting on you. You may also rekindle a desire to move better, move freely, to do things you perhaps used to do with ease.
  • Many women also find that exercising--even a little bit--gives them a boost in the self-esteem department And once you're feeling better about yourself, you're more likely to feel positive about your ability to do what it takes to lose the weight.

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