For gym owners, the cycle is predictable: Every January, memberships go up. Attendance goes up. Makes sense; studies show the most popular New Year's resolution involves "exercising more" and "improving fitness." (Besides: For many entrepreneurs, health and fitness plays a major role in their success.) 

Statistically, that resolution also includes losing weight. In fact, for many losing weight is the reason they decide to start exercising. Losing weight requires consuming fewer calories than you burn, and exercising burns calories.

Unfortunately, that reasoning, sound as it might be, is also a New Year's resolution killer.

Because the underlying math is not your friend.

Say you decide to walk more, a great choice for improving your fitness. But for weight loss? Walk briskly (think 17 minutes per mile) and you'll burn around 400 calories. You'll need to do that every day for nine days to lose one pound -- and that assumes you never slip and add cream cheese to a bagel or squeeze an extra helping of dressing onto your salad.

Or say you decide to ride a bike. Another great choice for improving fitness. But for weight loss? You'll have to ride really, really hard to burn a lot of calories. If you're just starting out, you'll be hard pressed to burn 700 calories an hour -- and you'll need to do that for five straight days to lose a pound.

All while avoiding the temptation to eat more that naturally follows from existing in a calorie deficit state.

And then there's this: Most people greatly overestimate the number of calories they burn by three to four times. Yep: While I might think I burned 600 calories (since I worked so hard, I must have, right?), I probably burned only 150 or 200 calories.

All of which means I don't lose weight.

Which means I'm likely to quit exercising: Why keep doing something so difficult when it's not working?

Actually, it is working.

Just not in the way you might think. 

Consistent, regular exercise offers a huge variety of benefits. According to the CDC, exercise leads to sharper thinking. Lower risk of depression and anxiety. Better sleep. Stronger bones and muscles. Reduced risks of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. Decreased mortality rates

Yep: Exercise provides a (freaking) laundry list of benefits.

But it might not help you lose weight.

And that's OK.

According to a review of multiple studies recently published in iScience, while weight loss is associated with a reduction in mortality risk of approximately 10 to 15 percent, exercise is associated with a reduction in mortality risk of between 15 and 60 percent.

Yep: Where health outcomes are concerned, weight loss is helpful -- but exercise is extremely powerful. As the author of another study on the benefits of exercise writes, "Physical activity works on multiple mechanisms within the body, and that's how it could potentially help prevent chronic conditions and therefore also prevent early deaths."

So if you decided to exercise to lose weight, take a step back and reconsider your motivation.

If you're overweight, losing weight is a great goal.

But don't lump "exercise" and "lose weight" together. Decide to exercise more because of all the benefits regular exercise provides. Because exercising at moderate intensity for 20 minutes can elevate your mood for up to 12 hours. Because exercising can improve memory and cognitive skills.

Because exercising can help you better manage stress, a small-business owner's constant companion.

That way you won't be tempted to quit exercising if you don't lose weight, a likely outcome since the exercise/weight loss math will rarely be your friend. 

Instead, make weight loss a separate goal.

That way you'll be more likely to keep exercising.

And enjoying all the short- and long-term benefits on your health and, surprisingly enough, even your wealth