Does exercise affect your weight?

If you’re wondering how physical activity affects your weight, don’t fret just yet: it’s not clear whether calories are directly related to exercise, or whether physical activity contributes to your weight loss.

In a recent study in JAMA, researchers used data from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study to try to investigate this question. A total of 1649 US nurses and 85,189 health professionals answered questions about their eating and physical activity habits. On average, women engaged in 60 minutes of physical activity four days a week; men and women who logged an average of 58 hours of physical activity a week.

Researchers looked at participants’ GIA-eye scans to see if their activity levels affected their height, weight, and waist size. GIA-eye scans measure the circumference of the upper arm as compared to the body.

Although physical activity might seem to play a role in our appetite, for example, by increasing the levels of certain hormones, it’s important to note that this particular imaging technique offers no direct link between what people eat and the activity levels they maintain.

The results of this study are an important step toward understanding the relationship between exercise and weight. As with most things we study about physical activity, though, there is a lot more we still don’t know.

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