I just finished reading James Fell’s post The Exercise Myth and as I read it, I kept nodding my head in agreement. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with exercise my whole life – I love it when I do it, but I hate feeling like I have to MAKE myself do it. To paraphrase Fell’s post, he basically says that functional exercise is better for the majority of people than regimented formal exercise like running or lifting weights. Things like walking to a coworker’s office instead of sending an email, playing with your dog outside, or walking to the store instead of driving, are all ways that most people can increase and stick with daily movement. He writes that only a small percentage of people truly love exercise and that most of us just do it as a means to weight loss and we hate it while we’re doing it. But actually, the theme of the post is that exercise does not lead to weight loss and we don’t have to kill ourselves with workouts we hate. And this got me wondering…

If you knew that exercise had zero effect on weight loss, would you still do it?

I mean, really…think about it for a second, would you still get up for that 6:00 am run if you knew it wouldn’t help shed the pounds? Would you still scramble to make it that 7:00pm Zumba class if you knew the number on the scale would be the same the next morning?

Remember, we’re talking about exercise in regards to WEIGHT LOSS ONLY. Would you keep doing the exercises you’ve been doing if it had absolutely no bearing on losing weight?

Here’s what delights (and confuses) me about the question: I feel I would be more inclined to exercise if we took weight loss completely out of the equation! Because my history with exercise has only ever been based on calories burned and pounds shed, it comes as no surprise that working out is not my favorite thing. Taking weight loss out of it feels more liberating to me – like it opens up a whole other space for self-care.

If you say that getting in that early morning run keeps you from stabbing your coworkers later in the day? I believe you and think wholeheartedly that you should keep running (I’d hate to see you go to jail just because Bob in accounting made a snide remark on your presentation). Also, if getting to that Zumba class is the only hour you have where you don’t have toddlers hanging on your legs? Then absolutely, you should go. And if swimming every day eases the soreness in your joints, then swim on, my mermaid friend!

So, I’ll ask the question again, but with an addendum: If you knew that exercise had no bearing on weight loss, would you still do it and if so, what would you do and why?

That’s your assignment for today – answer these questions. You can put your answer in the comments below or just think about them in your head as you go about your day.

And remember, this is all just hypothetical. I know there are a lot of you reading this right now and you have your email ready to send to me saying YES IT DOES JILL! EXERCISE ABSOLUTELY LEADS TO WEIGHT LOSS!! Calm down, okay? We’re playing pretend here. We’re just seeing how it feels to explore this point of view. IT’S GONNA BE OKAY, I PROMISE. 🙂