The effects of exercise on weight loss or weight gain varies from person to person. (1)

Although most people who exercise will lose weight on the long term, some people find that their weight remains stable and a few people will even gain weight. (2) However, some of those who gain weight are actually gaining muscle, not fat.

Most weight loss recommendations advise combining a hypocaloric diet with an exercise component in order to achieve a significant energy deficit. Therefore when comparing diet and exercise, changing your diet tends to be more effective for weight loss than exercise. (3) (4)

However, the most effective strategy involves both diet and exercise. (5)

It’s best to find a type of physical activity you enjoy and that fits into your lifestyle. This way, you have a better chance of keeping it up. Healthy lifestyle habits to consider include:

  • walking or riding your bike
  • taking the stairs instead of elevator
  • parking further away from destinations and walking the remaining distance

The last researches that evaluated The Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Weight Loss and Maintenance  concludes that the type of workout definitely influences the weight loss process (6):

  • Resistance training only: up to 1 percent weight loss
  • Aerobic exercise only: up to 3 percent weight loss
  • Combo Aerobic and resistance training: up to 3 percent weight loss
  • Diet (aka caloric restriction) combined with aerobic exercise: 5 to 15 percent weight loss

There are also other factors that can affect how much weight you lose, such as gender, anthropometric data and metabolic changes. (7)

Before you choose diet over exercise, keep in mind that regular physical activity has many other health benefits beyond weight loss. Combining exercise with a healthy diet is a more effective way to lose weight than depending on calorie restriction alone. Exercise can prevent or even reverse the effects of certain diseases, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, which may prevent a heart attack.

In addition, if you exercise, you lower your risk of developing certain types of cancers such as colon and breast cancer. Exercise is also known to help contribute to self confidence and well-being, thus lowering rates of anxiety and depression.

Exercise is helpful for weight loss and maintaining weight loss. Exercise can increase metabolism, or the number of calories you burn in one day. It can also help you maintain and increase lean body mass (muscle), which also helps increase number of calories you burn each day.