It’s heart month so let’s focus on the great news about exercise and heart health. When patients share that they want to lose weight in order to be healthy, I love sharing some great news. You can improve your health while losing weight! We connect being overweight with being unhealthy and thin with being healthy, yet the research does not support this when it comes to heart heath.
The “obesity paradox” is the term used when research shows people with a higher body weight have a lower risk of heart disease and premature death than those at a recommended body weight. But, when fitness level is included in the data, there is no paradox! In every weight category, people who are fit had a lower risk of a heart event and better survival, even if they already have heart disease!
There is considerable evidence that high levels of cardio fitness eliminates or significantly lowers the risk of cardiac death in people who are overweight and obese, even in those with heart disease, high cholesterol and diabetes.
Therefore, cardiac fitness is more important than obesity in long term prognosis.
Here are some more key findings:
- People who are unfit had double the risk of dying, regardless of body weight.
- Year to year changes in fitness were better at predicting future risk of developing hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and high cholesterol than changes in body weight.
- When people remained fit, even when body weight increased, their risk of heart disease and risk of dying from any cause did not increase.
- People with heart disease and heart failure but with preserved fitness had good survival regardless of body weight.
If you are looking to lose weight to be healthy, and are exercising regularly, be confident you are reaching your goal long before the scale reaches your goal weight. Certainly, there are added benefits of getting to your healthy weight. Based on the overwhelming evidence, we can define a healthy weight for your heart as the weight that allows you to stay fit.
Keep Moving, Be Well,
UMass Memorial Weight Center Exercise Program
Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist
Certified Health and Wellness Coach
These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.
Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery. Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center