Exercise Is About WAY More Than Burning Calories
A message from Orangetheory’s Sr. Director of Health Science and Research
You know what really grinds my gears? When people and brands equate exercise to caloric expenditure and/or weight loss. Exercise is about way more than just burning calories, and it’s about time the fitness industry — and its consumers — recognized that.
Let’s review what decades of exercise science and public health research show us about the benefits of a physically active lifestyle:
· Minimum Dose: While some physical activity is markedly better than none, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults should participate in a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity and 2 or more resistance training sessions each week.
· Exercise, Defined: Exercise is one type of physical activity; it can be defined as planned, structured physical activity that is repetitive in nature and performed for the purpose of improving physical fitness and/or performance. Other types of physical activity include leisure-time, transportation-related, and occupation-related activities.
· Health Benefits of Physical Activity: When compared to physically inactive people, those who regularly participate in physical activity (and structured exercise) have a lower risk for all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, overweight and obesity, and certain cancers. They’re more likely to report better physical function and health-related quality of life than their inactive counterparts. And, regular activity is associated with both short- and long-term mental health benefits, like improved cognitive function, reduced risk of depressive symptoms, and improved sleep.
The real kicker here? These health benefits are mainly independent of weight status; whether you’re overweight or normal weight as categorized by body mass index, you are experiencing these health benefits if you’re meeting or exceeding the dose we discussed earlier.
You’ve likely noticed an intentional shift with Orangetheory Fitness’s More Life campaign; we’re dedicated to helping consumers everywhere find #morelife through regular participation in accessible exercise. Rather than focusing on quick fixes, trendy detoxes, or weight loss ads, Orangetheory is helping members stick with it for the long haul — we're following the science, to showcase that exercise is an important component of overall health. We’ve even partnered with WW, formerly known as Weight Watchers, and the American Heart Association, to provide science-backed, public health-level education to consumers.
Do you burn calories exercising at Orangetheory? Yes, certainly. But please, don’t let that be your “why.”
Because, as an Orangetheory member, do you also improve your performance, meet new people, have social support, sleep better, feel more energetic, improve your self-efficacy, reduce your risk of chronic diseases, improve your mental health, and improve your body composition? Yes! And experiencing success with these More Life variables is what will keep you sticking with an exercise routine over time, no matter how much you weigh.
Through the pandemic, many different stakeholders in the fitness industry worked closely together to keep health needs of the public foremost in mind. I’m asking for that same level of commitment when it comes to topics like this. Because here at Orangetheory, we are passionate about More Life — not just for our members, but for ALL.