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Fat Person in ChairI’ve said lots of times that I believe you cannot outrun your fork. That is, no matter how much you exercise what you put in your body will always have a significant impact on your health (and weight). Now based on an article in the Daily Mail experts say we’re deluded about how many calories we burn doing exercise… and then we over-eat.

If you’re working up a sweat in the gym but still not managing to lose weight, then overgenerous post-workout treats could be to blame.

Although exercise has its indisputable health benefits, experts have said that many well-intentioned gym goers overestimate how many calories they have burned, and in turn indulge in too many sugary and fat-laden snacks.

For example, it takes over an hour of intensive cycling to burn a medium shop-bought pizza.

‘There’s a war between exercise and nutrition in our heads,’ said Jonathan Ross, spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise.

‘People tend to overestimate the amount of physical activity they get. They work out a little bit and treat themselves a lot.’

A report by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation found that although Americans say they are more active, it has not made much of a dent in the obesity epidemic that affects more than one-third of U.S. and UK adults.

Mr Ross, a personal trainer based outside Washington D.C., said exercise can play a role in weight reduction, but without broader lifestyle and nutritional changes, that role is limited.

‘We put exercise in a box and once that exercise box is filled in we don’t do much the rest of the day,’ he explained, adding that a calorie-dense treat does not help.

‘Some (weight-loss) programs stress nutrition, some stress exercise,’ he told Reuters Health. ‘But the two together are greater than the parts.’

The National Weight Control Registry, which gathers information from people who have successfully lost at least 30 pounds (13 kg) and kept it off for a least one year, reported that 90 per cent of its members exercise, on average, about one hour per day.

U.S. health officials recommend that healthy adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week, or around 20 minutes a day.

Dr Joseph Donnelly, an exercise physiologist with the American College of Sports Medicine said the U.S. government guidelines are for cardiovascular fitness, not weight loss.

‘It was never intended for weight management, said Dr Donnelly, a researcher who focuses on obesity at the University of Kansas. ‘People have misused it.’

He added that studies suggest 250 to 300 minutes of exercise per week may be the minimum to lose weight: ‘At 150 minutes, the best you can hope for is weight maintenance.’

Dr Michele Olson, professor of exercise physiology at Auburn University Montgomery, in Alabama, said it is difficult to shed pounds through exercise alone.

‘One pound of fat has 3,500 calories,’ she explained. ‘If you ran a 26-mile marathon, where you burn about 100 calories per mile, you would burn 2,600 calories, falling 900 calories short of burning one pound of fat.’

She added that people must be physically active regardless of their size or whether they are losing weight.

‘Moderately intense exercise done in as few as 10-minute increments two to three times a day markedly reduces our risk of all causes of mortality, heart disease most effectively but all other causes, including cancers, deaths due to hypertension and strokes, etc,’ she said.

Cystic Fibrosis A Race We Must Win2013 Miles in 2013

This year I am trying to complete 2013 miles self-powered miles. It is has been 10 years since my cousin’s son Adam lost his fight with Cystic Fibrosis. Adam was just 18 years old when when he lost his lifelong battle with CF, the UK’s most common life-threatening inherited disease. Despite spending large parts of his short life in hospital Adam never once complained, not even of a headache and was determined to make the most of everyday.

My 2013 miles in 2013 challenge is in aid of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust as I have been surprised since I started fundraising for the CF Trust just how many people are unaware of this disease and so I hope my efforts will not just raise money, but also awareness of the UK’s most most common life-threatening inherited disease.

The first person to commit to sponsoring my 2013 mile challenge has committed to 1p per mile (£20.13 in total) and this got me thinking. I am hoping that as many as possible of those reading this will commit to do the same and the best thing is, if each person does this on a “pay as you go” type approach all you will need to part with is approx £2 just after each pay day. In January I completed 205.9 miles, in February I completed a further 200.9 miles, in March I completed 185.7 miles, in April I completed 192.1 miles, in May I completed 168 miles and in June I completed 145 miles. If you can please spare £10.98 to help the Cystic Fibrosis Trust it will be greatly appreciated.

The easiest way to give your sponsorship is to visit my Just Giving page:

2013 Miles in 2013 – The rules

The rules for my 2013 miles in 2013 challenge are quite simple:

  1. All miles must be completely self powered (no motors, sails, etc)
  2. I must be able to evidence all miles, either via GPS or with a picture of any static gym equipment

To complete my 2013 miles I will be running, cycling, rowing and who knows, I might even try a few other self powered methods along the way.