Working out more won’t help you lose extra calories, according to a study released in Thursday’s Current Biology. The researchers suggest people’s bodies stop burning extra calories after a certain point in exercising.
“It’s a surprise,” said lead author Herman Pontzer of the department of anthropology at City University of New York.
“We’re taught that there’s a simple one-to-one relationship between activity levels [exercise] and energy expenditure [burning calories], that the more active you are, the more calories your body burns every day.”
His team’s findings point to the opposite.
“Our bodies adapt to higher activity levels so that people don’t necessarily burn extra calories even if they exercise more.”
Over the course of one week, Pontzer analyzed the daily energy expenditure and activity levels of more than 300 men and women in five countries. The general consensus showed calories can plateau during exercise.
“As we move from moderate activity levels up to more and more activity, our bodies adapt, so that energy expenditure per day stays basically the same, even as we’re more and more active,” Pontzer said.
Having said that, physical activity has more benefits to the body besides a slimmer waistline. Even with Pontzer’s findings, he acknowledges it’s not an excuse to skip workouts.
“We know that exercise is important for our hearts, our mental health and immune system health,” he said.
“This study doesn’t change any of that. We still need to exercise.”