I read this study the other day, and I don't claim to be an expert, but after starting my exercise routine for the last couple of years, I have learned a lot about dieting, exercise and weight loss.
I think the study is accurate to a point, but I want to add in my own observations about how exercise works, and what the gyms don't want you to know:
1. If you want to lose weight, diet is about 80% of the trick to losing weight.
2. No matter what the study says, you need to do some kind of exercise that involves upping your heart rate, and creating a sweat that lasts at least 30 minutes.
3. People want results fast - so they don't see a change, get discouraged in about a month and stop dieting.
Then many people are out a year membership with their local health club because they don't get how to lose weight. I have heard a thousand "reasons" from my friends about their weight loss and some utterly stupid diets. The problem with weight loss can be summed up easily:
We love food.
It's not shocking to say that. But when people are deprived of what they love, they feel bad. Maybe not crying that they cannot eat a cheeseburger, but after a month of eating salad for lunch every day, they miss their favorite foods. The brain is amazing at tricking us into eating. You are basically fighting emotion, and some people are simply better at this than other people.
What I would suggest are these tricks which have worked for me. I'm not here to lecture people, I'm not the peak of physical perfection. I'm still someone who struggles with staying on my diet and exercise. But these things have worked for me, and if you are someone looking to get into shape, this is what I would suggest:
1. Small changes add up. Drink water, not juice or diet soda. Instead of eating potato chips, try soy crisps or at the very least - pretzels. Substitute sweet potato into your diet. Avoid sauces, gravy or dressing - they have so many hidden calories and sugar. Avoid white bread, use wheat when you can. Order turkey burgers over regular burgers. Buy the book "Eat This! Not That!", which is a good guide to other small changes that really add up. I had a bagel the other day - a WHOLE WHEAT bagel. I had light cream cheese, which had less fat, and I didn't use very much. A bit here and there.
2. Cheating is OK, but that doesn't mean cheating everyday. My diet is 5 days "good" and 2 days "bad". There's going to be the unexpected days where you are supposed to be on a "good" day and you eat unhealthy - THAT IS OK. Just get back to being good. I drink 1 cup of coffee everyday. I use cream. I use sugar. I don't care. Have your coffee in the morning. Have a bagel with cream cheese. Order a cheeseburger on a Saturday afternoon WITH fries. The key word is: MODERATION. Friends of mine look at me and will quip about "OFF THE DIET, HUH?" when they see me eating junk food. No, i'm not eating bad when you add up how I eat during the whole week.
3. Eat like a caveman. When choosing foods to eat, don't reach into the frozen foods section and get a "Lean Cuisine". The majority of your meals should be food basics. Most of my dinners each night are chicken and asparagus, with a small bit of BBQ sauce on the side (about a tablespoon). I dip an edge of the chicken into the BBQ sauce, and that goes back to my "moderation" comment. People get dismayed about dieting with flavorless food. Don't kill yourself when dieting. Have a bit of sauce on the side, but don't SLATHER your food in sauces or gravy.
4. Do not starve yourself, it doesn't work. I have seen this a thousand times. People starve themselves, get miserable, and they are off the diet in a few weeks and back to their old weight. Everyone has these little diet solutions that they read in a magazine, and they never work. The key is just moderating diet & eating whole foods, not processed foods. Eating complex carbs will make you feel fuller, longer. Foods like brown rice or sweet potato are excellent choices as side dishes.
5. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.. If you need to pig out, eat more in the mornings. After 5pm, avoid carbs like the plague. My morning routine is coffee (milk and sugar!) with honey nut cheerios (more sugar! heaven forbid!). I tried switching out sugar for a substitute, but it goes back to Adelle Davis's saying - I figure that I can get away with it in the morning. I can cut it out completely, and go hardcore, but like I said before - if you need to cheat, and are dying to have a tasty treat, do it in moderation and do it in the mornings, not 8pm at night when you wolf down three slices of pizza with a couple of beers.
In closing, I would say don't get discouraged when you diet. Especially when you get derailed. I get derailed all the time, and what you do is just get back on track again and don't beat yourself up over it. Rome wasn't built in a day, and I love the changes I have seen from working out. There's always more I wish I could do, and a few pounds I wish I could lose. I'm very happy with my body, and have gotten to this point from many different lessons learned about how to trick your brain into getting the body that you want.