It’s Not Just About the Scale
“Exercise … lowers blood pressure and improves your cholesterol and blood sugar numbers, even if you don’t lose weight.”
Besides improving the quality of your life, exercise can also help you increase the quantity of your life. One study that pooled data from more than 650,000 people ages 21 to 90 indicated that, regardless of the candidates’ body mass index, they would live longer if they included regular leisure-time physical activity.
Those who did no more than walk 75 minutes each week would live about 1.8 years longer, the study found, while those who doubled that amount gained another 1.6 years.
Those who were inactive and at normal weight lived 3.1 years less than those who were obese and active. But those who were both active and at normal weight saw 7.2 more years than those who were inactive and extremely obese.
“A modest physical activity program may have health benefits, even if it does not result in weight loss,” the study concluded. “The findings also suggest … that a lack of leisure time physical activity may markedly reduce life expectancy when combined with obesity.”
Instead, the message is that even if you achieve only modest weight-loss improvements, you’re still doing your body a world of good.
In the study cited earlier where only 4.5 percent of participants achieved their weight-loss goals, 33 percent of that same group lost 10 percent of their bodyweight and 79 percent lost five percent—a weight-loss amount that can reduce one’s risk for cancer and cardiovascular disease.
“Weight loss is good for your blood pressure, for your blood fat profile and for processing glucose and insulin, and it reduces inflammation,” Dr. Lee says. “All of those things contribute to better health.”
So here’s a challenge: make it your number one health goal to achieve a state of greater fitness. Whether you’re going to start walking daily, run your first race, do 30 pushups, find an activity that you enjoy and set a goal to improve at it.
Perhaps you’ve already set a goal to improve your health by losing 10 percent of your bodyweight. Great! But don’t stop there. Set a goal for reduced body fat percentage, an improved cholesterol profile or lower blood pressure.
“Both fitness and fatness matter, separately and together, for heart health,” Dr. Duck-Chul Lee of the University of South Carolina told The New York Times. “So much attention gets focused on weight reduction, but … maintaining your fitness over your lifetime is just as important.”
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Here’s to our health and wellness!