8th July 2024

Lessons from Dr Michael Mosley: Exercise

Dr Michael Mosley has left an incredible legacy that will continue to inspire a movement for better health. We will honour his legacy by reflecting on the lessons Michael taught us, covering topics including food, sleep, fasting, exercise, and the secrets to leading a happy life.

One topic Dr Mosley was particularly passionate about was exercise and its profound effect on your health, mood and weight. He dedicated a best-selling book, ‘Fast Exercise’, to the subject and was known to start every morning doing push-ups and squats with his wife, Dr Clare Bailey.

Practising movement in this way can be both enjoyable and bring a host of health benefits with it, such as reducing your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and type 2 diabetes.1 Whether you’re a gym-goer or a homebody, have lots of time on your hands or are time-poor, there’s a form of exercise out there for everyone. 

Today, we’re reflecting on some lessons we’ve learnt from Dr Mosley on exercise so we can continue his legacy and help spread the word he spent so many years researching.

What Dr Michael Mosley taught us

1. Exercise doesn’t have to take hours: Dr Mosley knew that not everyone has the time to dedicate to a thorough workout regime, so he often shared the benefits of exercise like high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and incidental exercise; “Even a short amount of activity is enough to revitalise your body by delivering some much-needed oxygen and energy-producing nutrients to your muscles.” A HIIT workout can take as little as 10 minutes but can produce benefits similar to twice as much moderate-intensity exercise, so it’s a great option, especially if you’re tight on time.2

2. Discover exercise you enjoy: The key to making exercise a regular habit is finding fitness you enjoy. If you’ve decided you don’t enjoy exercise, but you’ve only ever tried running in a gym or cycling on a machine, we recommend trying low-impact yoga, a joyful dance class or opting for getting out in nature to see if you enjoy it more. Any form of exercise is good exercise, so give different types a go until you find one or two that make it feel more like a fun hobby and less like a chore.

3.Exercise helps preserve muscle mass: Exercising is particularly essential when following a lower-calorie diet, as it has been shown to preserve muscle mass.3 Strength and resistance training are the best forms of exercise for building muscle and maintaining lean mass, particularly as you lose weight. However, do bear in mind that protein is equally as essential, so make sure you pair your workouts with a healthy dose of daily protein.

4. Exercise is great for both physical and mental health: Dr Mosley always highlighted that exercise “not only helps you to manage weight and build muscle, it also improves mood, reduces anxiety and enhances cognitive function.” Countless studies have recognised that exercise, particularly aerobic exercise, can substantially improve mood and reduce depression symptoms even after a short period.4 What’s more, its ability to improve your sleep is another contributor to enhanced mood and energy levels. 

5. Exercise can help gut health: A key focus of both The Fast 800 and Dr Mosley’s work was gut health as it supports your heart, central nervous system, immune system and weight management.5,6 Dr Mosley said, “Whilst genetics has the ability to determine how our guts function, lifestyle [like fitness] can impact how well we choose to maintain it.” Studies have found that just 30-90 minutes of exercise a week causes change within the gut microbiome, so make sure you’re focusing on the inside and the outside when it comes to gut health.7

6. Choose a time that works for you: Finding times that fit best for your workouts is key to having a sustainable exercise routine. If you’re a morning person, start your day off with invigorating cardio, or if you’re more of a night owl try a wind-down yoga workout in the evening instead. The same applies for working exercise around your eating patterns. Dr Mosley stated that “working out fasted vs. non-fasted is completely up to you and how you feel, some people love it but some people find it tough. The most important thing is doing the workout, regardless of time in the day.”

In his own words, Dr Mosley highlights that the most important thing is just “doing the workout”. Whether you’re a beginner to exercise or a well-seasoned fitness lover, there truly is something for everyone. Dr Mosley’s work helped to shed light on just how important exercise is for our overall health, and we’re so proud to be able to honour his work by continuing to spread his lessons around the world.


Information taken from: NHS Website (reviewed 4th August 2021) https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/exercise-health-benefits/ [Accessed: 1st July 2024)

Kong Z, Fan X, Sun S, Song L, Shi Q, Nie J. Comparison of High-Intensity Interval Training and Moderate-to-Vigorous Continuous Training for Cardiometabolic Health and Exercise Enjoyment in Obese Young Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial. PLoS One. 2016 Jul 1;11(7):e0158589. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0158589. PMID: 27368057; PMCID: PMC4930190.

Sardeli AV, Komatsu TR, Mori MA, Gáspari AF, Chacon-Mikahil MPT. Resistance Training Prevents Muscle Loss Induced by Caloric Restriction in Obese Elderly Individuals: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients. 2018 Mar 29;10(4):423. doi: 10.3390/nu10040423. PMID: 29596307; PMCID: PMC5946208.

Dimeo F, Bauer M, Varahram I, et alBenefits from aerobic exercise in patients with major depression: a pilot studyBritish Journal of Sports Medicine 2001;35:114-117.

Aron-Wisnewsky J, Clément K. The gut microbiome, diet, and links to cardiometabolic and chronic disorders. Nat Rev Nephrol. 2016 Mar;12(3):169-81. doi: 10.1038/nrneph.2015.191. Epub 2015 Nov 30. PMID: 26616538.

Rooks MG, Garrett WS. Gut microbiota, metabolites and host immunity. Nat Rev Immunol. 2016 May 27;16(6):341-52. doi: 10.1038/nri.2016.42. PMID: 27231050; PMCID: PMC5541232.

Boytar AN, Skinner TL, Wallen RE, Jenkins DG, Dekker Nitert M. The Effect of Exercise Prescription on the Human Gut Microbiota and Comparison between Clinical and Apparently Healthy Populations: A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2023 Mar 22;15(6):1534. doi: 10.3390/nu15061534. PMID: 36986264; PMCID: PMC10054511.

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