Can the gym make you fat?

Doing wrong exercise can impede weight loss

Going to the gym is not guaranteed to help you lose weight – in fact, there is scientific evidence that it may have the opposite effect.

The awful truth for every would-be slimmer is that doing the wrong kind of exercise could actually impede weight loss.

Most women dieters avoid weights and tend to choose cardiovascular exercise like running on the treadmill. ‘Women can have a block about weights,’ says clinical psychologist Victor Thompson. ‘The fact is, many assume we have to be big and butch to lift weights, or, if we’re not, that’s how we’ll end up looking.

‘So your average dieter goes hell for leather on the treadmill, rowing machine or cross trainer. People see getting a sweat on as the way to burn calories.’

Cardiovascular exercise, which works the big muscles of the body, makes the heart work harder to pump more oxygenated blood to the muscles, so the lungs have to take in more air to provide this oxygen, which is why you feel out of breath.

However, while cardiovascular exercise might feel exhausting, the calories it burns are pretty pathetic. Thirty minutes on the rowing machine burns just 300 calories. That’s 50 calories less than a 100g slice of pepperoni pizza.

Resistance exercise, such as lifting bar bells or working-out on weight machines, builds up lean tissue, and boosts your Basic Metabolic Rate – the rate at which we burn calories just going about daily life.

Another thing to watch out for is that your appetite may adjust to a gym habit. ‘Your appetite goes up when you start to exercise,’ says David Archer, lecturer in exercise physiology at the University of Sunderland. ‘Your body is telling you it needs more calories, so you eat more.’

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