Less exercise may be better

We should all exercise!

Many cosmetic plastic surgery patients are looking for not only a new body shape but also a way to maintain that investment in their body. Healthy eating and some sort of exercise program are the basic steps that most cosmetic plastic surgeons will advise their patients to follow both before and after plastic surgery.

I have written about dieting and healthy eating in the past:

How to diet

Psychology and weight loss

Choices in eating

I have also written about exercise:

Exercise not to lose weight

Recent research shows that how much exercise you do actually affects the amount of energy you use up (and the weight you lose), but in a counter-intuitive way! Here is the article from the New York Times on February 13, 2013:


Normally you would think that the more exercise you do, the more energy you burn. Yes… and no. It turns out that women who exercised six times a week actually burned fewer calories during the week than those who exercised four times a week or even two times a week! Exercising less is best!

Patients who exercise six times a week

Women who exercised heavily were so tired that they became lazy in their daily life. They took elevators instead of stairs, drove instead of walking small distances and generally were so exhausted that they just lay about at all other times, not using energy!

Patients who exercised four times a week lost an average of an extra 200 Kcal, and those who exercised twice a week even managed to lose 100 Kcal a week more than what they expended with exercising. The women exercising six times a week were actually spending 200 Kcal less energy than at the start of the experiment, even though they were working out like mad! At the end of the study, all groups were more fit than when they started.

It seems that exercise is just revving up the metabolism to allow the body to burn more calories on an ongoing basis, and too much exercise just slows down the whole process by sending the wrong signals to the body.

Exercising more may also increase your chances of injury—doing less may have that added benefit as well!

If you want to exercise six times a week, there is nothing wrong with that, as long as you continue to move around and do the activities of daily living and not get lazy!

But it’s obviously a lot more complicated than that. Though I do not doubt the study’s findings, I’ll keep to my mantra that exercise is an inefficient way to lose weight and moderation is best—not too much and not too little. Another recent exercise book suggests that the greatest benefit is in the first 20 minutes 4 times a week!

In fact, I’d like to see the weights and photos of the authors of the research and the New York Times article to see what they look like. This may all be a bit of a “chubby conspiracy,” don’t you think?

Even more recent studies from 2019 show that exercising in microbursts of 1 minute a few times a day is as beneficial as an hour long exercise.

Morad Tavallali, M.D., FACS