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Exercise Alone May Not Help You Lose Weight

When we want to lose weight, conventional wisdom dictates that we exercise. However, a recent study with male mice may prove otherwise.

Study: Exercise vs. No Exercise

Researchers at Vanderbilt University conducted a study that monitored mouse behavior and their energy intake and expenditure. The study locked mice running wheels (no exercise) for four days and followed up with unlocked running wheels for nine days.

Their findings may be a key insight into understanding exercise’s impact, or lack thereof, on weight loss.

In the four days that the wheels were locked, scientists monitored the mice to get a baseline understanding of how they roamed around their cages and their metabolism.


When mice exercised, they didn’t alter their eating habits by eating more food. Instead, they tended to offset the energy expenditure from exercise with less time roaming around their cages. Scientists surmise that the mice reduced cage roaming to offset the energy deficits sensed by their bodies and minds. These biological signals could be telling the mice to slow down and maintain their current weight.

These changes in how they spent their time neatly managed to almost counteract the extra calorie costs from running, says Daniel Lark, a research fellow in molecular physiology at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, who led the new study.New York Times

Weight Loss

Obviously, mice are not humans, so our habits may differ from theirs. However, this study was a key insight into understanding how exercise alone may not promote weight loss. To achieve weight loss, it’s not a matter of more exercise. It’s also a function of a healthy diet. This study does, however, shed light on the fact that we may move less during the days we exercise.

Read more about the study in The New York Times and Diabetes.

Dr. Sonja Stilp delivers innovative, individualized physical medicine and rehabilitation with a focus on spine and sports medicine at RISE. If you want to learn about ways exercise and diet can promote weight loss and a healthier lifestyle, schedule an appointment to meet with her.  Dr. Stilp will educate you on healthy tricks to readjust the set point your body tends to.  Being healthy is more than the number on the scale! 



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