Why Exercise Is More Important Than Weight Loss for a Longer Life

For better health and a longer life span, exercise is more important than weight loss, especially if you are overweight or obese, according to an interesting new review of the relationships between fitness, weight, heart health and longevity. The study, which analyzed the results of hundreds of previous studies of weight loss and workouts in men and women, found that obese people typically lower their risks of heart disease and premature death far more by gaining fitness than by dropping weight or dieting.

The review adds to mounting evidence that most of us can be healthy at any weight, if we are also active enough.

In other studies from Dr. Gaesser’s lab, however, overweight and obese people with significant health conditions including high blood pressure, poor cholesterol profiles, or insulin resistance, a marker of diabetes type 2, showed dramatic improvements in these conditions after starting to exercise, whether they lost weight or not.

Seeing these results, Dr Gaesser began to question whether physical fitness could allow overweight people to enjoy good metabolic health, regardless of their body mass number, and potentially live as long as people do. thinner – or even longer, if thin people were absent. of form.

So for the new study, which was published this month in iScience, he and his colleague Siddhartha Angadi, professor of education and kinesiology at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, began browsing the databases of research for previous studies related to diet, exercise, fitness. , metabolic health and longevity. They were particularly interested in meta-analyzes, which pool and analyze data from several previous studies, allowing researchers to look at the results of many more people than in most individual studies of weight loss or exercise. , which tend to be small in scale.

They resulted in over 200 relevant meta-analyzes and individual studies. Then they got down to seeing what all this research, involving tens of thousands of men and women, most of them obese, was saying about the relative benefits of losing weight or getting in shape for improving metabolism. and longevity. Indeed, they asked if someone who is heavy gets more health by losing weight or by getting up and moving.

The competition, they found, was not close. “Compared to the direct comparison, the magnitude of the benefits was much greater from the improvement in fitness than from the weight loss,” said Dr. Gaesser.

Overall, the studies they cite show that sedentary and obese men and women who start to exercise and improve their fitness can reduce their risk of premature death by 30% or more, even though their weight does not move. This improvement generally puts them at a lower risk of premature death than people considered to be of normal weight but in poor shape, said Dr Gaesser.

Source: Why Exercise Is More Important Than Weight Loss for a Longer Life – The New York Times


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