Welcome back! Happy Wellfie Wednesday!
This week's tip is brought to you by Aaron Perez (@AaronPerezPT)
Today, I’d like to share some good news. At times that seems rare in a fitness industry and “health care” (sick care) system that frequently sells us on everything “wrong” with ourselves.
I recently learned about this study looking at the relationship between physical activity, body mass index, caloric intake, and heart disease mortality. The researchers followed nearly 10,000 people over a 17 year period. Least physical activity and obesity were independently associated with higher heart disease mortality. Interestingly, those who ate the most calories had reduced heart disease mortality, but this was not significant after adjusting for physical activity and obesity. This graph from the article summarizes the info nicely.
The bars represent groups of people based on physical activity, BMI, and percentage of people with the lowest calorie intake. The lower the bar, the less heart disease mortality seen in those groups of people. Compare the bar on the lower left (skinny but unfit) to the bar on the upper right (fat but fit). The rate of heart disease mortality was about equal for those two groups. Several more recent studies (link, link, link) support these findings.
We’re getting there! The authors conclude the greatest practical advice from their findings is this: focusing on calorie burning via exercise, rather than reducing caloric intake, may offer the most productive strategy to avoid falling victim to the number one killer in the world, heart disease. In other words, being fat and fit is better than being unfit, period. This is an uplifting message for those exercising diligently to lose weight, but not seeing results on the scale. If you are working to improve your fitness, your body is likely becoming healthier…regardless of what that stupid scale might say…So keep going!
Please, don’t hear what I’m not saying. Obesity is still a very important risk factor to address for your health. But, if weight loss is your goal, you cannot neglect nutrition. Combining exercise with good nutrition is essential for substantial and sustainable results. Media such as the T.V. show “The Biggest Loser” have popularized exercise for weight loss. However, it is much more difficult to burn calories off than to not consume them in the first place. To their defense, it probably wouldn’t make for a great T.V. show to just see clip after clip of folks consistently not overeating.