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October 2022

Exercise Mistakes That Keep You from Losing Weight

You’re committed to losing weight and, to help reach that goal, you’re being more physically active. Yet the number on the scale isn’t budging. Why? Here are four common exercise errors that could be stalling your weight-loss efforts.


Mistake #1: Relying on exercise alone to take off pounds

Both regular physical activity and good eating habits play important roles in managing your weight. Initially, most weight loss is due to taking in fewer calories through food and drink. But staying physically active is crucial for keeping the pounds off.

The fix: Include both increased exercise and healthy diet changes in your weight-loss plan.

Mistake #2: Taking a fitness gadget’s word for how many calories you’ve burned

Studies show that wearable fitness trackers and smart watches do a poor job of calculating how many calories are used during physical activity. That’s a problem if it deceives you into believing that you can eat more than you really should.

The fix: Get a second opinion about how many calories you’re burning with an online tool. Try this physical activity calorie counter.  

Mistake #3: Loading up on junk food after a workout

Research shows that the more active people are, the more likely they may be to stick with a healthy diet for losing weight. Yet there is a potential pitfall: Post-workout hunger may lead to poor food choices if you aren’t prepared.

The fix: Have a healthy snack on hand in case you’re hungry after exercising. Try raw veggies with hummus or almonds with low-fat cheese cubes.

Mistake #4: Doing only cardio with no strength training

It’s true that cardio (aerobic) exercise plus a healthy diet helps you shed the pounds. But doing strength training is also critical, because it helps you maintain or build lean muscle tissue. Bottom line: The 2 types of exercise work together to reduce body fat.

The fix: Do strength-building activities at least 2 days per week. Examples include lifting weights, using resistance bands, and doing body-weight exercises (such as sit-ups and push-ups).

Be mindful of your behavior

Print out a free food and activity journal.  

Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley, MSN, BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 9/1/2022
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