Consider this scenario: A person has has a body fat percentage of >25% or whatever is considered clinically obese (i.e their weight may have detrimental effects on their health). This person, for whatever reason, has no desire to lose weight but enjoys going to the gym, performing cardio and resistance training. Therefore, they eat calories at maintenance or even a mild surplus so that muscle growth doesn't just cause body recomp, thus keeping their BF% the same. This scenario may seem strange but it's necessary for the purpose of my question.

What I'm wondering is, even without losing any fat, would the resistance and cardio training have any effect on the health risks posed my obesity? I.e would it reduce risk of diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease, hypertension and all other health conditions that result from obesity? If so, how much would it benefit their health compared to reducing fat to a more healthy level, e.g 15% but then not being very active at all?

  • There are some metabolic changes induced by exercise that can make weight loss easier, but I’d say weight loss, and more specifically fat loss, isn’t even really an effect of exercise at all.
    – Thomas Markov
    Commented Feb 18 at 23:14
  • @ThomasMarkov - I understand that weight loss is not simply caused by exercise, my question is purely regarding any effects that come directly from exercise, hence the scenario where no weight loss occurs.
    – Ethan
    Commented Feb 19 at 0:35

1 Answer 1


Yes, physical activity is very much capable of improving health or reducing the risk of harms associated with obesity even when weight loss does not occur. However, comparing the effects of exercise without weight loss to weight loss without exercise is difficult when the two tend to happen together.

See: DOI 10.3390/ijerph19094981

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