Is Exercising Making Us Fat?

Sure, exercise is heart-healthy, but what happens when our good intentions lead to ones of the naughty sort? Here's why your fitness habit may be making you fat.

It would be rather silly of me to say that part of the reason I exercise is not so that I might also eat more food. It's true: I love the feel-good endorphins exercise produces, but I also looove food. Is that a crime?

No, it's not. But a recent article in Time magazine says my exercise habit may be making me even more hungry, even more apt to crave those naughty foods. Or, at least, leading me to believe I deserve them.

The truth is millions of Americans belong to a gym, but the obesity figures in the U.S. continue to skyrocket. How can this be true?

Well, here's how it works: Do you remember the last time you went for an extra-hard run and then rewarded yourself with a brownie?

There ya go.

It's a tendency for avid exercisers to think a solid workout means more food for their tummies. While, of course, we do need to compensate for our sweat-inducing work, the answer to our bodies' call for more calories is not to shove a hot fudge sundae down our throats. Instead, we just need more good food—food with calories that actually do something for our bodies. And to top that off, we musn't overdo it.


Now, not all exercisers subscribe to the notion that their hard work deserves a trip to Cold Stone Creamery; those fitness fans are the beautifully lean bodies we see sipping their greens and allowing themselves to indulge every now and then. They have found a balance and, surely, that is the answer.

No, I will not cut out my occasional ice cream treat. But the point is that we learn to take exercise for what it is—a heart-healthy habit—and not as an excuse to go hogwild at the candy store.

It's tough to hear, but the ugly truth. But if we think of exercise in itself as the reward, then, perhaps, it will help to put things into perspective.


Caroline Shannon has been a journalist for six years, working for several publications, including Ideal Bite, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, First30Days, Maniac magazine and The Glass Hammer. She is a certified Pilates instructor and takes a long, hard run just as seriously as she does several Hint ‘O Mint Newman-O’s. She can be reached at


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