“The debate revolves around whether a physically active person who is overweight or obese can still be considered metabolically healthy, i.e., has good blood pressure, good cholesterol, and good blood pressure. ‘insulin”

One of the most controversial questions being asked in the health community today is whether you can be overweight and healthy.

This question — sometimes phrased using the term “fat but fit” — has preoccupied medical researchers for decades, fueling numerous studies both supporting and debunking the concept.

The debate revolves around whether a physically active person who is overweight or obese can still be considered metabolically healthy, meaning they have good blood pressure, good cholesterol and insulin.

As a health professional and obesity expert, my answer to this question often surprises: I believe that a person can indeed be overweight and healthy. Here’s why.

1. Weight and health are not perfectly correlated

As I explained in my article on body mass index (BMI), a person’s weight doesn’t always tell the whole story of their health.

Although being overweight increases an individual’s risk of having a range of health problems, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and certain cancers, numerous studies have shown that the risk of illness from a person is not related to weight, but to body fat and its distribution in the body. body.

Although BMI calculators provide a starting point for assessing body fat, BMI is not an accurate measure of health because it does not explain where fat is distributed in the body.

People with a high amount of visceral fat — a particularly unhealthy type of fat stored around the stomach, near organs — have a higher risk of disease than people who keep body fat around their hips.

It’s also important to remember that muscle is much denser than fat – another thing BMI can’t measure.

Therefore, if a BMI calculator classifies you as overweight or obese, but you are physically fit, have a healthy diet and lifestyle, and have fat stored around your hips, you might be healthier than someone with a BMI in the “normal” range if they don’t exercise or eat a balanced diet.

2. Weight and fitness aren’t perfectly related either.

We have been conditioned to believe that being overweight is directly associated with being unfit. But it is inactivity, not our weight, that has a direct impact on our physical condition.

Indeed, many studies have used exercise testing to show that some overweight and obese people have high levels of cardiovascular fitness and strength. The difference? These people practiced regular physical activity.

Regular exercise will improve your fitness, regardless of your weight. Sadly, more than half of the Australian population doesn’t even get the 30 minutes of exercise needed five days a week to stay healthy and alive, let alone help them manage their weight.

3. Lifestyle is more important than a number on the scale

It may seem obvious, but healthy behaviors – not weight – make us healthy.

Although it is important to understand and manage the relationship between our weight and our health, we must remember that other factors also influence good health. The main ones are getting enough exercise, having a healthy and balanced diet, reducing stress and improving the quality of our sleep.

How to be healthy at any weight

There are several simple things you can do right now to support your overall health, regardless of your weight.

Mix up your exercise routine

It is indisputable that exercise has tremendous health benefits. In addition to improving your heart health, regular physical activity improves muscle strength and mobility, reduces stress levels, and promotes better sleep and energy levels.

To encourage more exercise, grab something you enjoy, whatever it is. But be sure to include variety, because doing the same routine every day is a surefire way to get bored and avoid activities, and can also make it difficult to reach your goals.

It’s also important to look for ways to incorporate incidental activities into your daily routine. Our sedentary lifestyles are literally killing us, with experts suggesting that a week of physical inactivity has the same health cost as smoking 20 cigarettes.

Introducing more activities can be as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking the car a little further from our destination, or turning off the robot vacuum cleaner and doing the chores ourselves.

Busting 5 Exercise Myths for Women

Improve your sleep

Getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep we need each night will significantly benefit your health. The good news is that it’s easy to dramatically improve your sleep quality by taking simple steps to promote good sleep hygiene. Start with the “no blue light after dusk” rule, turn off your devices early to stimulate the secretion of sleep-inducing hormones such as melatonin.

Retrain your brain to manage your stress

Stress will negatively impact your health, often encouraging unhealthy eating habits and contributing to chronic diseases such as high blood pressure.

Contrary to popular belief, alcohol is not a good way to manage stress! Instead, adopt more beneficial stress-relieving activities, such as exercise and meditation.

The bottom line

Your weight matters when it comes to your overall level of health. It’s just not the only thing that matters, and it’s not still necessary to achieve the definition of a “healthy weight” category.

We should all adopt healthier lifestyle habits, regardless of our weight. – The Conversation|Rappler.com

Nick Fuller is Head of Research Program at the Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney.

This article originally appeared in The Conversation.

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