Do You Need to Exercise to Lose Weight? It’s Complicated

When we come across exercise programs on social media or tv, they tend to promote things like “beach body,” “21-day abs,” “summer body,” “transform your body in 30 days,” etc. Exercise can help with accomplishing a healthy physique, whatever that may look like. However, many of these programs forget to mention the other factors that play into weight loss like nutrition, stress, and sleep, amongst other factors.


Food is an essential aspect of the weight loss process. Finding a good balance of all food groups based on your needs is key. Focusing on foods high in lean proteins, fiber, and portion can make a significant impact on your progress. Depending on goals, diet, or conditions, your needs may be different. Therefore, speaking to a nutritionist or health care professional may be necessary. However, this website can serve as a guide for healthy individuals in the U.S.


Stress is sometimes inevitable but controllable. However, when stress is high, it can take a toll on your physical body, including weight. When stress is heightened, the hormone cortisol levels may increase, leading to abdominal fat storage, increased visceral fat, and total fat storage. Cortisol also affects your hunger and satiety hormone, leptin, which makes you feel hungry and unsatisfied after meals and can lead to overconsumption of calories.

To reduce stress, find a hobby or activity that you enjoy! Maybe some yoga? A new exercise class? Knitting? A night out with the girls? Lowering those stress and cortisol levels can significantly impact weight loss.


As you’ve probably heard before, sleep is crucial for health. Several research studies have published that lack of sleep increases appetite with increased “unhealthy” food choices. Lack of sleep also causes physical, mental, and emotional stress, which increases cortisol levels (stress hormone) that we previously mentioned.

Studies have shown that reducing caffeine and alcohol can improve sleeping patterns. Staying away from blue light (aka electronics) for 30 to 60 minutes and getting at least 7 hours of sleep.


Although exercises like cardio and weight training are super beneficial for your overall health, you do not have to overdo it at the gym to achieve weight loss. Like with everything in life, exercise requires balance. If you overexercise or under-exercise, it can take a negative toll on your body. Find something that you enjoy doing to boost your metabolism and burn calories. Whether it’s a walk around the neighborhood or a HIIT training class, incorporate it into your lifestyle in a healthy way if you enjoy it.

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