weight workplace wellness

More Than Exercise Needed For Weight Loss?

Well-run workplace wellness programs recognize that a regular fitness routine can deliver various benefits to helping improve employee health, address weight concerns, and even help reduce overall health costs.

As we reported here, diet and exercise head the list of lifestyle interventions to help manage diabetes.

We also noted a New York Times report that “some types of exercise may be better than others at blunting appetite and potentially aiding in weight management, according to an interesting new study of workouts and hunger. It finds that pushing yourself during exercise affects appetite, sometimes in surprising ways.”

We also highlighted the American Society of Clinical Oncology, which raised an important question about the benefits of exercise in helping reduce cancer risks — and the answer might encourage companies to consider the role fitness plays in their workplace wellness program design.

ASCO Expert Dr. Charles Ryan stated: “Although the data vary by different cancer types, there is a consistent trend suggesting that moderate daily exercise has a beneficial effect on preventing certain cancers. Given this there is little reason for a healthy adult to not incorporate regular exercise into their daily routine.”

But now a new study published in Diabetes raises the idea that more than exercise might be needed to fully address obesity.

The study is titled “Reduced Nonexercise Activity Attenuates Negative Energy Balance in Mice Engaged in Voluntary Exercise,” and it states: “Exercise alone is often ineffective for treating obesity despite the associated increase in metabolic requirements.”

The study was done on mice, not humans. But as the New York Times reports: “If you give a mouse a running wheel, it will run. But it may not burn many additional calories, because it will also start to move differently when it is not on the wheel, according to an interesting new study of the behaviors and metabolisms of exercising mice.”

Indeed, various studies have shown that exercise alone may not be enough to address weight loss. The NYT continues: “Scientists involved in this research have suspected and sometimes shown that exercisers, whatever their species, tend to become hungrier and consume more calories after physical activity. They also may grow more sedentary outside of exercise sessions. Together or separately, these changes could compensate for the extra energy used during exercise, meaning that, over all, energy expenditure doesn’t change and a person’s or rodent’s weight remains stubbornly the same.”

For workplace wellness programs, these studies confirm the need to maintain multiple channels to help employees improve their health. Focus on a combination of areas — fitness, diet, even mental health, and more — may be part of a well-organized program design.