By Sean Zucker –
Last week, Lizzo posted a video on TikTok responding to critics concerned with her weight and health habits. The video features various clips of the singer performing numerous exercises along with images of her confidently wearing revealing clothing. Lizzo not only hit back at body shamers, the Grammy award-winning artist shed light on some of the bigger misconceptions surrounding exercise—all while beautifully promoting body positivity and healthy body weight.
“Health is not just determined by what you look like on the outside, health is also what happens on the inside,” Lizzo says in her short video. Many experts appear to have her back, long touting the misconception that exercise’s value is simply and directly tied to weight loss. Their studies continue to show that exercise’s deeper benefits come in enhancing a person’s physical and mental health rather than losing weight or improving their “looks.” The issues and personal benefits of losing weight and each individual achieving their ideal body size are entirely different and complex.
The Mayo Clinic, for example, presents various physical advantages to exercising that go beyond weight control, including helping to prevent or manage numerous conditions such as diabetes, cancers and heart disease, while promoting deeper and more sustainable sleep, boosting energy and improving sex drive. The positive mental impact of exercise may even vastly outweigh the physical gains.
The benefits regular physical activity can have on mental health are already well documented, but new studies continue to emerge demonstrating just how powerful a treatment it can be. Last year, the University of Vermont declared exercise the best natural prescription for a range of mental health and mood disorders that stretch from anxiety and depression to schizophrenia, suicidality and acute psychotic episodes. The university’s research found that physical exercise is so effective at alleviating these issues that it can reduce the time a patient suffering from these problems stays in an acute facility as well as lessening their reliance on psychotropic medications.
In April, the University of Basel found that physical activities also can bring about long-term improvement in cognitive performance and mental coordination. A month later, UT Southwestern Medical Center completed its own yearlong workout study that found exercise improves memory, boosts blood flow to the brain and may reduce the risk of dementia.
Lizzo’s take also tackled the misconception that frequent exercise equates to major weight loss and body transformation. “Hey, so I’ve been working out consistently for the last five years and it may come as a surprise to some of y’all that I’m not working out to have your ideal body type,” she said. “I’m working out to have my ideal body type.”
The Center for Quantitative Obesity Research at Montclair State University seems to agree, reporting that there are several contributing factors towards weight loss, many of which an individual has little to no control over. These include natural body type, gender and metabolic changes.
An international study led by Loyola University in Chicago found compelling new evidence that exercise may not be the key to controlling weight. Its research featuring young adults from the United States and four other countries found that neither physical activity nor sedentary time was associated with weight gain. The university, nonetheless, reinforced the notion that physical activity still has many specific health benefits ranging from reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer to improving mental health and mood. Loyola added that while physical activity undoubtedly burns calories, this immediately doesn’t equate to losing weight because there are so many other factors involved. The study’s crucial bottom line is that physically active people tend to be healthier and live longer, regardless of weight loss or gain.
Similar to much of her music, Lizzo’s declaration promotes body positivity and the importance of a healthy self-image, which in turn reinforces and encourages a healthier, happier life. According to research from the University of Missouri Health, positive body image is critical for both mental and physical health. This, in turn, leads to healthier life choices. The study went on to suggest poor body image can be damaging to more than just physical health, especially for women. The findings claim that when women have a negative or poor body image, they tend to engage in riskier health behaviors, such as unsafe sex or substance abuse.
Exercise is obviously essential to human health and wellness, it just isn’t always reflected in a person’s physical appearance or weight. Maybe it’s best to heed Lizzo’s advice. Ultimate workout goals should be personal and catered towards an individual’s ideal body type, which she eloquently states, is no one else’s business but your own.