0800 840 1628 • Monday - Friday 9am - 6:30pm

Contact Us

Do you have to exercise to lose weight?

You can lose weight by changing your eating habits and making healthier food choices, however, combining this with exercise can boost weight loss. Losing weight is all about burning more calories than you consume. Portion control, drinking less and eating healthier will likely lead to weight loss, but exercise is a great way to burn more calories and keep your body moving. 

We all wish that losing weight could be easy, but it can be very challenging for some of us - especially those of us who find it difficult to make time for exercise. How fast you’re able to lose weight, whether you’re dieting alone or being active alongside eating well, can vary person to person. For example, genetics, age, gender and your sleeping pattern can play a part in your ability to lose weight.

In this article, we’ll share reasons why it’s beneficial to exercise when trying to lose weight and how much you should be doing to see success.

Why should I eat healthy and exercise? 

By minimising your intake of sugary and fatty foods and enjoying a balanced diet, you can ensure that your body is getting all the vitamins it needs to function properly along with losing weight. Whilst eating well is effective for weight loss, you should also incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Working out regularly not only stimulates weight loss, but it helps you maintain your physical and mental health. 

Here are a list of reasons why you should both eat healthy and exercise:

1. It improves your mood

Getting your body moving and eating well can have a real impact on your mental health. Whether you experience anxiety, stress or low-mood, being active helps you to clear your mind and stimulates the production of ‘feel good’ hormones and chemicals in the brain (such as endorphins and dopamine). This helps to regulate our mood and feel more positive.

You can read our blog on the benefits of exercise on mental health here. 

2. It can improve your sleep

Poor diets will often involve the consumption of sugary foods, which can disrupt your sleep. Working out regularly will help to improve the quality of your sleep, having an impact on your mood and ability to think more clearly. That said, you should avoid exercising before your bedtime as vigorous activity can leave you feeling more awake. If possible, try to exercise in the daytime. If you have a busy schedule, why not try to workout before work or go for a walk during your lunch break to get your body moving?

3. It helps to prevent some health conditions and diseases

Being active daily alongside eating healthy meals will help to reduce your risk of developing the following health conditions and diseases:

  • Heart disease
  • Strokes
  • Diabetes
  • Some types of cancers
  • High blood pressure
  • Mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.


4. It can give you more energy

Having a balanced diet is important because the carbohydrates, fats and proteins in the food you eat will give you energy (this is measured in calories). Whilst sugary foods and fizzy drinks may give you a quick energy boost, this is only temporary and can lead to weight gain.

In terms of exercise, working out can improve your endurance and build-up your muscle strength. Exercise can also boost the circulation of oxygen in your body which will help you to use energy more efficiently. Moreover, regular exercise can help to improve your sleep, leaving you more refreshed and energised for the day ahead.

5. It helps you to lose weight more efficiently and maintain your weight loss

As mentioned, the combination of exercise and eating well can speed up weight loss. However, the tricky part of losing weight is maintaining your progress. When you complete physical activities, you burn calories. The intensity of the workout will impact the amount of calories you burn (for example, high-intensity workouts such as running will burn more calories than walking at a comfortable pace). 


Why am I not losing weight when I exercise?

Have you already tried exercising more each week but haven’t noticed the pounds drop off yet? There could be many reasons for this, including:

1. You could be building more muscle

When you exercise, you build more muscle - especially if you’re weight training. This means that staring at the scales may not be the most reliable way to observe your weight loss. Instead, you could try taking measurements of your body and track your progress this way.

2. You may still be over-eating 

If your calorie intake is higher than the amount of calories you’re burning, you’re unlikely to make much progress. You could try to keep a food diary so that you can track what you’re eating each day and be more mindful of the meals you’re making. Alternatively, why not try out this calorie checker by the NHS which allows you to calculate your calorie intake each day?  

It’s also worth noting that drinking alcohol can negatively impact your ability to lose weight as it contains a surprising number of calories. Drinking less won’t only help you to lose weight, but it can also have other health benefits (such as preventing artery disease and enabling you to handle stress better). 

3. You may not be working out enough 

Adults are advised to complete at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activities daily (or 75 minutes of high-intensity workouts). When it comes to being active, every little helps, but you may need to push yourself a little further if you’re exercising far less than the recommended amount each week.

Struggling to get your body moving? Read our blog on how to motivate yourself to workout for some fresh ideas!

4. You’re exercising too much

You could be pushing yourself too far too soon. Doing too much exercise can actually lead to inflammation in your body and negatively impact your metabolism. If your body begins to release too many stress hormones (such as cortisol), your blood sugar levels may increase. Try to take rest days if you’re engaging in weight training or high-intensity exercises. Giving your body time to recover is important as it allows your muscles to repair themselves and prevents injuries. 

5. You’re not getting enough sleep

Research has indicated that sleep deprivation can increase the risk of diabetes and may impact the body’s ability to regulate hunger (potentially increasing the risk of over-eating). Adults are advised to get between 7-9 hours of sleep each night.

6. You could be losing weight without realising

It can take time before you start seeing the scales move in the right direction, but you could still be shedding some fat without noticing.  

If you’re not seeing the results you expected for your weight loss efforts, take a look at our blog, ‘Why am I not losing weight?’ to find out more.

7. You could have a medical condition that makes weight loss trickier

Some medical conditions can make losing weight more challenging, such as sleep apnea and hypothyroidism. If you think that a medical condition may be affecting your ability to lose weight, speak to a healthcare professional to find out what your options are.

How much do I need to exercise to lose weight?


In order to lose weight successfully, you need to be burning more calories than you consume. the NHS recommends that adults (aged 19 to 64) complete at least 150 minutes of moderately-intense exercise (such as a fast-paced walk or riding a bike on mainly flat surfaces) or 75 minutes of high intensity workouts each week (such as running or swimming). Try to pay attention to the meals and snacks you’re eating and cut back on any foods high in sugar or salt. 

Why not check out our blog on how to eat healthy for some tips? 

Final thoughts

So, whilst you don’t need to exercise to lose weight, it’s highly recommended that you do. This isn’t just because it will likely speed up the progression of your weight loss, but because of all the other health benefits involved which will improve your physical health and mental wellbeing.  

Looking to lose weight?

If you live in Dorset and you’re looking to make healthier lifestyle choices in order to lose weight, we’re here to support you! Our friendly team of health advisors and coaches can guide you through your weight loss journey, giving you tips on how you can get active also.

Register or have a chat with us today to find out more about the services we offer and how we can help you to reach your weight loss goals.


I drank too much alcohol and had unhealthy eating habits. Pastry is such a bad thing, it's all those pies, pasties and sausage rolls!

View full story

How does this work?

The tailored approach LiveWell Dorset uses to come up with solutions to the things that are stopping us achieving our goals, is based upon work done by University College London developing the COM-B model of behaviour change. In this model, all behaviour is influenced by understanding a person’s capability to change, their opportunity to change and their motivation to change. By understanding which of these is the biggest barrier to change, we can tailor support accordingly. This model of behaviour change is at the centre of the support we offer, online and in person.

Your Favourites?

or register, to favourite activities that you want to try.


Is this the first time that you've used our services, or have you already registered with us? To allow us to best serve you, please confirm whether you're new to LiveWell Dorset, or if you've spoken to us before and may have an existing account.

Welcome back, it's good to hear from you again!

To speak to one of our dedicated team and get the help you require please request a call back. All call backs from this service are free of charge to both landlines and mobile.

Request a Call Back

Do you provide your consent to share your information with the LiveWell Dorset team – part of Public Health Dorset ?

When you register with LiveWell Dorset, we ask you some questions about you and your health (how much you smoke, how active you are, how much you drink and how much you weigh). We store that information and use it to shape our service offer to you – such as the advice we give or the extra services we connect you to. The only people who will see this information will be those involved in the delivery of the service and management of the data. If you would like to use extra services (such as slimming clubs and pharmacies) we have to share this information with them. For us to be able to put you in touch with these services, we must have your consent to share that information with the service (we’ll ask for that later, when if you sign up for extra services).

Before we can sign you up any further, we need to know:

  • You're happy for your personal information to be shared with LiveWell Dorset.
  • You understand what information may be shared and why, and that at times, our contact to you may be supported by technology partners, who have the same data protection standards and safeguards as we do
  • You acknowledge that you can withdraw your consent at any time by informing LiveWell Dorset.
  • You understand that if you do not give consent or withdraw consent then it could be difficult for us to connect you some of the services we offer.

If you require any more information to help you make your choice then please contact the LiveWell Dorset team on 0800 840 1628. All telephone conversations at LiveWell Dorset are recorded for quality and training purposes, and stored whilst you are registered as active within the service.

Yes I consent

Sorry we can't continue at the moment

Unfortunately we need your permission to store your personal information to help us to assess the best support we could provide or signpost you to. If at any stage you change your mind and are happy to provide your personal information please come back and visit us again.