Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Fitness & Exercise

Font Size

Exercise Trumps Diet for Weight Loss

Active Monkeys Stay Lean, Sedentary Ones Get Fat -- No Matter What They Eat

Can Obese Humans Become Active?

A lot of studies show that obese people aren't as active as lean people are. Cameron's study now suggests that it isn't obesity that turns people into couch potatoes -- it's inactivity that makes people obese.

However, it may not be a simple thing for overweight or obese people to become more active. Cameron says it's possible to predict how active monkeys will be when they're only 1 week old.

"Why are some monkeys more active? You would think it was what situation they were living in," Cameron says. "But we looked at monkeys with acres to run around in and many playmates. You would expect them to be very active. And if you move them indoors with fewer playmates, they should not be as active. But that was not true. A sedentary monkey was just as sedentary, and an active monkey was just as active no matter the setting. And we find this remains true over time."

It remains to be seen whether human couch potatoes can switch to an active lifestyle. But Cameron's work may have put one myth to rest: It's not your metabolism.

People who gain or don't gain weight often point to their inherent metabolic rate as the culprit. For monkeys, at least, this isn't so. Monkeys' metabolic rates didn't vary much. And those with the highest metabolic rate were no more likely to gain or lose weight than those with the lowest metabolic rate.

1 | 2

Healthy Living Tools

Ditch Those Inches

Set goals, tally calorie intake, track workouts and more, all via WebMD’s free Food & Fitness Planner.

Get Started

Today on WebMD

Wet feet on shower floor tile
Flat Abs
Build a Better Butt Slideshow
woman using ice pack

man exercising
7 most effective exercises
Man looking at watch before workout
Overweight man sitting on park bench
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Build a Fitter Family Challenge – Get your crew motivated to move.
Feed Your Family Better Challenge - Tips and tricks to healthy up your diet.
Sleep Better Challenge - Snooze clues for the whole family.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply

pilates instructor
jogger running among flowering plants
Teen girl jogging
Taylor Lautner