Obesity Paradox? Exercise Is Key to Health and Longevity

Here is one more reason for everyone to stay active this summer.  It’s common knowledge that being overweight or obese is not good for a variety of reasons, including increased risk for metabolic diseases and even certain types of cancers.  However, would you find it surprising that the skinny girl next to you at the lunch counter may be more at risk for death than some rather rotund folks you  know? Researchers have learned that, for some, carrying extra weight may actually prolong your life. Sounds strange, right?  This so-called “obesity paradox” is still not very well understood and has been somewhat controversial. But new research shows that a key consideration when examining mortality is your fitness level. The current study examined coronary artery disease patients and something called VO2 peak, which is the maximum capacity of your body to use oxygen during exercise; this marker ultimately shows the fitness of a person. Oddly, being obese lowered the risk of death from coronary artery disease. So even if you look thin on the outside, if your body’s ability to use oxygen when exercising is poor, you are more at risk for death if you suffer from coronary artery disease.

So if you consider exercise level and the type of fat distribution (apple vs. pear-shaped obesity) into account, the obesity paradox may no longer exist.  The bottom line? For people that exercised the least, their chance of dying tripled.

Working out does not have to be just about going to a gym and hiring a personal trainer.  It is recommended that you engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on most days of the week.

Here are some simple, quick ways to incorporate more exercise into your daily routine:

  1. Take the stairs rather than the elevator whenever possible.
  2. Go for a walk with friends/family, whether in a park or to explore new neighborhoods.
  3. Park your car further away from your destination or get off a few stops earlier on your bus or train and walk the rest of the way.
  4. Try dancing as a new hobby. You will burn 300 to 400 calories in a one hour of salsa dancing, for example.
  5. Participate in sports. Play a game of tennis or join a local sports leagues for soccer or softball.  It’s not only a good way to add more exercise into your daily routine, but also to meet new people and make new friends!

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1 Comment

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