Article Text

other Versions

Download PDFPDF
Beneficial effects of exercise: shifting the focus from body weight to other markers of health
  1. Neil King1,*,
  2. Mark Hopkins2,
  3. Phillipa Caudwell3,
  4. James Stubbs4,
  5. John Blundell3
  1. 1 QUT, Australia;
  2. 2 Trinitu All Saints, United Kingdom;
  3. 3 University of Leeds, United Kingdom;
  4. 4 Slimming World, United Kingdom
  1. Correspondence to: neil king, Queensland University of Technology, IHBI, MUsk Av, Kelvin Grove, Brisbane, 4059, Australia; n.king{at}


Background: Exercise is widely promoted as a method of weight management, whilst the other health benefits are often ignored. The purpose of this study was to examine whether exercise-induced improvements in health are influenced by changes in body weight.

Methods: Fifty-eight sedentary overweight/obese men and women (BMI 31.8 ±4.5kg/m2) participated in a 12 week supervised aerobic exercise intervention (70% heart rate max, 5 times a week, 500kcal per session). Body composition, anthropometric parameters, aerobic capacity, blood pressure and acute psychological response to exercise were measured at weeks 0 and 12.

Results: Mean reduction in body weight was -3.3 ±3.63kg (P<0.01). However, 26 of the 58 participants failed to attain the predicted weight loss estimated from individuals’ exercise-induced energy expenditure. Their mean weight loss was only -0.9 ±1.8kg (P<0.01). Despite attaining lower than predicted weight reduction, these individuals experienced significant increases in aerobic capacity (6.3 ±; P<0.01), decreased systolic (-6.00 ±11.5mmHg; P<0.05) and diastolic blood pressure (-3.9 ±5.8mmHg; P<0.01), waist circumference (-3.7 ±2.7cm; P<0.01) and resting heart rate (-4.8±8.9bpm, p<0.001). In addition, these individuals experienced an acute exercise-induced increase in positive mood.

Conclusions: These data demonstrate that significant and meaningful health benefits can be achieved even in the presence of lower than expected exercise-induced weight loss. Less successful reduction in body weight does not undermine the beneficial effects of aerobic exercise. From a public health perspective, exercise should be encouraged and the emphasis on weight loss reduced.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


Linked Articles