By: Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D.
The headlines came screaming out: Obesity on the Rise! 36% of America is Obese Today and 60% Will Be By 2030!! That’s no surprise given the fact that newer technology brings more virtual activity and with it, a more sedentary lifestyle. Heck, even gyms are stuffing virtual games into treadmills, ellipticals, and stationary bikes.
But a recent set of studies is worth looking at, especially if you are a bit overweight…ok, if you are obese. I wrote my thesis on obesity way back in the dark ages of the ‘70s and the data looked gloomy then for those who were obese for longevity, heart failure, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Today, it’s as if obesity, as commonly measured by a simple ratio of heart and weight, is talked about as if it’s a death sentence. That is, unless you understand the “obesity paradox.”
Simply stated, the obesity paradox suggests that patients with a number of chronic diseases of normal weight are twice as likely to die as those who are overweight or obese with those same diseases. So is there a need to reexamine the assumptions we’ve all been sold on about the association between body fat and disease? You bet there is!
Whether it’s overweight/obese dialysis patients, coronary disease, diabetic patients—it seems that study after study points to a similar finding. Cardiovascular fitness is a far more useful predictor of mortality risk than simple numbers on a scale. Trouble is, in many studies, fitness is not measured as it relates to disease processes. But evidence is growing that’s compelling medical researchers to take fitness into account.
When studies do take fitness into account, they come up with a terrific finding for those of us passionate about our fitness—“being fat and fit is better than being thin and unfit.” Get that? Here, it’s worth repeating, —“being fat and fit is better than being thin and unfit.”
Need to pick one? Of course, not. Being fit and at a healthy weight (taking into account body fat, lean muscle mass, and metabolic abnormalities) are best. But the latest research tells us if you do have to choose one, it’s more important to maintain fitness than leanness. They gym is the place where fitness and maintaining a health weight can be combined best. With individualized personal training and nutritional assistance by one of the club’s highly skilled certified trainers, the correct program, delivered appropriately for you, means your best chance for healthy living.
Add the psychological components of knowing how to create positive emotions, being engaged fully in the flow of enjoyable daily activities, developing and appreciating healthy relationships, finding meaning in your life, and taking pride in your accomplishments, you’ve got it all right for a life that’s healthy, fit and happy!