Corinne Austin | Personal Training

Exercising ISN’T for burning Calories

“If you work extra hard, make those legs and lungs scream, do more than you think you’re capable of, and can walk out of here a sweaty mess, then you’re entitled to treat yourself this weekend!”


I felt inspired to release an idea on social media a few weeks back.  It’s something that had unsettled and disturbed me for quite some time, it’s energy gnawing away in the background, continuously reminding me that something just wasn’t right.  It had stemmed from repeatedly witnessing peoples frustrations, struggles, and labour-intensive efforts as they chased weight-loss ambitions, and from the despair they suffered if the ‘formula’ failed them.


But because of how drummed into us the message of ‘calories in versus calories out’ is, and how much people have come to rely on exercise as a means of burning calories, I knew I was treading on eggshells.  It took the greatest amount of courage to be that person that addressed this – to come out from hiding and just say it.  But if I dared to destroy one of the most widespread (and over-abused) motivations to exercise I had to come out and say it.  I just had to.

If you’re exercising to burn calories you’re exercising for the wrong reason.

There.  I said it.


If I was to ask if the number one reason you chose to work-out or exercise on any given day was to burn calories – then I really and truly hope this post can turn your current mindset around.

When we translate the exercise we do (energy output) into the same currency as our food (energy input), it causes people to subconsciously place their values into one giant ledger.  When we apply this kind of formula, calories become a currency that can be used to purchase food choices that may be less than desirable (e.g. eating more than recommended, or choosing more highly-processed or energy-dense foods), and that actually completely mock the intentions of the candidate – who is in fact trying to become healthier via a supposed method of weight-loss.


The other problem the ‘calories in versus calories out’ formula poses is that we tend to simultaneously overestimate the calories we burn off from exercise while underestimating the calories we consume.  This continues to exacerbate the conundrum by persuading us to make food choices that we may not have made otherwise.  There is both physiology and psychology at play here – exercise physiologically reduces our hunger and increases the calorie deficit, but throwing exercise into the language of calories psychologically betrays us by suggesting we can eat more calories as a pay-off.


Participating in exercise to burn calories is a punishment mentality. And it’s a travesty to think that we have this amazing piece of machinery that we will thrash and disrespect for the sole purpose of burning off undesirable foods – from the past or future.

By punishing ourselves, or acting to burn calories, we automatically take on a negative ‘hate’ relationship with our body or something we’ve done.  And tell me what long term good ever arose from hate or having a negative relationship with something?
My objective – to help others see the beauty in movement and exercise, and the absolute honour it is to home this incredible machine of ours.  Movement is a liberty that we are born to do, but that too many of us cease to use to it’s most medicinal advantage.


We should be moving and exercising, daily.  But we shouldn’t be doing it to burn calories. Not today, not yesterday, not after a party day, or because you are hungover, or because you chose to have the whole block of chocolate not just one cube.  Not now.  Not ever.

We need to respect our wonderful body, nurture it, be kind and compassionate to it, listen to it, and love it.

There are a multitude of reasons we should be exercising and moving daily:

  • Improves energy
  • enhances health
  • mood stability
  • better mobility and agility
  • improves strength
  • improves aerobic fitness
  • increases happiness
  • stress reduction
  • strengthens immune function
  • improves lymphatic drainage
  • decreases the chance of lifestyle-type diseases
  • enhances longevity
  • role modelling
  • and the list goes on…


If burning calories has been a reason you’ve exercised before today, I urge you to please delete it from your mind, forever.  Burning calories should not be your motivation to exercise – and if you continue to feel there’s a need to burn calories then it’s definitely a good time to investigate why you feel this way, and what other processes we could put in place that may help you strive for better health, and to enable you to overcome this detrimental way of thinking.

Because movement is a liberty that we too often take for granted. But it most certainly shouldn’t be abused.


  • Corinne Austin
  • Movement Motivator & Health Coach