Exercise May Be More Important

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For many years, people have become obsessed with weight loss in relation to good health and for good reason. There is an obesity epidemic in the United States today and it is prevalent in other countries as well, and that certainly makes us focus on weight loss. Many studies have shown beyond a doubt that there is great health benefit in keeping your weight at an ideal level. However, many people are not successful weight controllers for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately, when they fail in the weight reduction program, they stop exercising as well.  Fat, doesn’t have to mean, unfit. Even if you don’t lose weight, the latest research shows there are many benefits from by continuing to exercise. 

A study, under the direction of Dr. Steven Blair of the University of South Carolina (formerly of the Cooper Clinic) shows that people who are overweight or obese but fit, have a lower mortality risk than those of normal weight but low fitness levels. The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.    

According to this study, those in the lowest fifth in terms of fitness had a death rate four times higher than participants ranked in the top fifth for fitness. Dr. Blair states, “Being fit provides protection against mortality in these men and women 60 and older, whether they’re normal weight, overweight, or obese.” In another study by Lee, Blair, and Jackson several years ago, 21,925 men of all shapes and sizes were assessed and monitored for eight years. The study concluded that men who were fit and fat, actually had a lower mortality rate than men who were normal weight but unfit and sedentary. One of the authors of this study is clinically obese. However, he runs 35 miles per week.  So the key here is “fit”, and not necessarily thin.

Many times, people who are overweight decide not to exercise because weight loss is too great a challenge for them.  Their mistake is that they don’t realize that exercise in and of itself, is beneficial for both physical and mental health.  The health benefits from a daily 30-minute walk (even if broken up into 2 or 3 segments), let alone a more balanced and intense exercise range from lowering blood pressure and cholesterol to reducing stress levels. Even a moderate effort makes a big difference.  In Dr. Blair’s study, the bottom fifth in fitness was twice as likely to die than the fifth right above them.

Be sure you are including all aspects of exercise—aerobic, resistance training and flexibility in your routine.  Including fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your diet is essential for good health together with your fitness regimen.   

So, no matter what your weight is, get started.  You can improve your quality of life and possibly extent your longevity because exercise can “add hours to your day, days to your year, and years to your life.”

ALAN FREISHTAT is an A.C.E. CERTIFIED PERSONAL TRAINER and a LIFESTYLE FITNESS COACH with over 15 years of professional experience. He is the Co-Director of the Jerusalem-based weight loss and stress management center Lose It! along with Linda Holtz M.Sc. and is available for private consultations, assessments and personalized workout programs. Alan also lectures and gives seminars and workshops. He can be reached at 02-651-8502 or 050-555-7175, or by email at [email protected]. You can also visit the Lose It Website at www.loseit.co.il US Line: 516-568-5027