Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Can You be Both Fat and Fit?

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Let the groaning begin.

Yes, it's one more report about the obesity epidemic in America. This is old news, right? We all know we're a nation of healthy eaters and even healthier waistlines. But, this report comes with a bit of a twist.

You can indeed be both fat and fit - eureka!

Dr. Steven N. Blair, of the University of South Carolina, studied the interplay of weight and wellness in about 2,600 people aged 60 and over. Over a 12-year period he assessed fitness levels and tracked mortality rates. He found that fitness, rather than fatness, is the key to living longer.

"Fitness level is a strong predictor for risk of dying in older adults," said Dr. Blair.

The study assigned people to one of five fitness levels, based on body mass index, waist circumference, and body fat percentage. The results speak well of leading an active lifestyle. Those in the lowest fifth fitness level were four times more likely to die than those in the highest fifth. That's a huge difference - yes, pardon the pun.

But, there is some very good news. The study found that even moderate exercise has a positive health impact, allowing sedentary individuals to escape the lowest fitness levels. A simple routine of walking 30 minutes each day, five times per week, will help improve fitness.

"It is possible for many older Americans to improve their fitness," Blair said. "The good news from this study is that they don't have to be thin to benefit from being physically active."

The bottom line? Get off the scale and move those chubby toes on down the path. You'll not only enjoy the fresh air, but add some years to your life in the process.

To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To read more about the health benefits of walking, see this from About.com.


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