Exercise & Weight Regain

Mar 05, 2024

Weight regain is a common phenomenon among individuals who have lost weight, and can be a significant cause of distress for many. However, there is one tool in the armoury that we can use to our benefit to prevent this from happening. And that is exercise or physical activity.

Did you know that exercising alone (without changing eating habits) is not actually linked to weight loss. This might shock some people, but it is in fact changing what you eat is the single most effective technique for that initial weight loss! Because exercising can lead to metabolic changes that would compensate for the calorie expenditure, by either increasing your appetite or even making you more sedentary in between exercise periods!

But of course, before you consider abandoning the plans to exercise for weight loss there are a significant amount of other benefits to be had from physical activity: This infographic has been taken from the Government guidelines:


And who wouldn’t want those benefits?!

So how does exercise help us from regaining weight once lost?

The exercise itself helps regulate appetite and food intake, which are critical factors in weight management. Physical activity has been shown to influence appetite hormones such as ghrelin and leptin, which play key roles in hunger and satiety. Regular exercise can suppress appetite and reduce cravings for high-calorie foods, making it easier for individuals to adhere to their weight loss maintenance goals. Additionally, engaging in physical activity can improve mood and reduce stress and emotional eating, further supporting weight maintenance efforts.

Regular physical activity fosters discipline, motivation, and self-efficacy, which are essential for maintaining weight loss success over time. Establishing a consistent exercise routine helps individuals develop healthy habits and routines that support their long-term well-being. Moreover, engaging in physical activity provides opportunities for social interaction and community support, which can further enhance adherence to healthy behaviours and reduce the risk of weight regain.


What classifies as ‘exercise’?

The most important message is ‘every minute counts’ and ‘move in any which way you can!’

Here are the current guidelines:


If those guidelines seem out of your capacity currently then don’t panic. You can adapt these goals to fit your life. The point is that you push yourself to do slightly more than you currently do and then keep moving upwards.

Start thinking about ways you can go for a brisk walk? Could you join a class? Keep busy plodding around the house!

I particularly want to bring your attention to the red circle; strength

The most important fact to remember with exercise is if ‘you don’t use it, you lose it’. This is something we are familiar with when it comes to muscle mass. People who do weight training to build muscle, need to continue to do it frequently to maintain it. If they do not, then the size of their muscles will decrease. This is true for many systems in the human body, e.g. the ability to balance, and also our lung capacity. If we don’t stretch ourselves, function slowly deteriorates.


Building strength is equally as important as cardiovascular exercise and becomes more important as we grow older. There are many simple exercises that can be done in a few minutes at home which could have a profound impact. These would include squats, press ups and sit-ups which, if done for even 1 minute each day would greatly improve muscle mass with a positive effect on your sense of balance.

As we get older, our muscle and bone mass will decrease. The loss of muscle mass in particular can slow down metabolism and make it easier to regain weight once the diet ends. By focusing on building muscle you can preserve and even build lean muscle mass, which helps increase the metabolic rate and promotes long-term weight maintenance.

Cardiovascular exercise is excellent for stress, burning glucose and stress hormones. It’s great for boosting energy levels and improves sleep. There is no doubt that doing exercise outdoors has a greater effect on health than a gym, and nature is of course free!

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