Gym or Active Lifestyle – Which is Better?

To lose weight, which is best: having an active lifestyle or going to the gym 4 times a week?

We decided to answer the question by looking at a fictional case study.

Working out at the local gym

Before we can estimate the calories burned through any gym session we first need to look at the individual, the type of exercise undertaken by that individual and the intensity level of the exercise.

The individual I am using for this example will be a 30-year-old male weighing 154 pounds (70Kg, or 11 stone). Every gym session he will jog for about an hour. For this example the exercise will be a light jog at an easy pace.

Burning calories by jogging

By jogging in this fashion, this individual would burn up to 500 calories per session. This is not a bad amount of calories to burn in a training session; 7 of these training sessions would equal the same calories found in one pound of fat.

However, don’t forget this is assuming a frequency of 4 workouts per week. And what if our guinea pig did no other exercise for the other 3 days in the week?

If we take into account the 3 days without exercise then that 500 calories actually becomes 285 excess calories burned per day (500 x 4 workout days = 2000 divided by 7 days = 285 excess calories burned every day). Also, because there are 3500 calories in one pound of body fat, it would take at least 12 days to lose one pound. I don’t think many dieters would be motivated with such slow progress.

Can gym workouts really help you lose weight easily?

These calculations make me realise how poor gym workouts can end up being for an overweight person who joins a gym purely to lose weight. 285 calories is nothing; this hard work can easily be undone with one chocolate bar or a dessert!

Plus many dieters find it hard to motivate themselves to get to the gym for just a few sessions per week, but in this case we are talking about four, one-hour sessions each week!

This doesn’t mean working out is a waste of time, after all there are many other health benefits to exercise, however, losing weight is all about calories burnt and in this case the energy expended is fairly low.

For any dieter to lose a satisfactory amount of weight in the above example, he would have to follow a strict calorie reduced diet along with the gym sessions.


On the other hand, if these exercise sessions are part of a healthier lifestyle that perhaps includes parking further away, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, sticking to healthy eating habits and cutting down on alcohol and fats – the results can become increasingly impressive.

To truly lose weight and keep it off, changing lifestyle will always be more successful than simply sweating it out in a gym and maintaining all of your other bad habits.




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