Ate Too Much on Thanksgiving? Here’s Good News
If you want to live a long life, you should worry less about your weight and more about staying active.
That’s the message of a major new study that found that exercise is far more important for longevity than losing weight.i
We’ve been told over and over that maintaining a healthy weight is crucial to living a long life. But researchers at the University of Virginia found that most of us can be healthy and enjoy longevity at any weight—if we are active enough.
Worry Less About Weight, More About Exercise
Scientists looked at the health records of tens of thousands of people to determine whether someone who is heavy gets more health and longevity benefit from losing weight or by getting up and moving.
The results were not even close.
“The magnitude of benefit was far greater from improving fitness than from losing weight,” said Dr. Glenn Gaesser of Arizona State University, who led the study.
Dr. Gaesser and his colleagues found that overweight people who start to exercise cut their risk of premature death by 30%, whether they lose weight or not. This improvement actually puts them at lower risk of early death than people who are normal weight but don’t exercise.ii
On the other hand, if heavy people lose weight by dieting but don’t exercise, the study found that their risk of dying young drops between zero and 16%.
Exercise Reduces Visceral Fat
Dr. Gaesser believes dieting is relatively ineffective in improving health and longevity because people who lose weight often gain it back. Then they go on another diet and lose it again. This yo-yo effect contributes to diabetes, high cholesterol, and lower lifespan.iii
Exercise, however, combats those same conditions, Dr. Gaesser said.
Even if overweight people don’t lose fat when they exercise, their fat is redistributed in a healthy way after they become active.
“People with obesity usually lose some visceral fat when they exercise,” he said. Visceral fat, which collects deep in our bodies around our organs, raises the risk for diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions.
“Exercise makes fat more fit,” Dr. Gaesser said.
The take-home message of the study is this, he said: “You’ll be better off, in terms of mortality risk, by increasing your physical activity and fitness than by intentionally losing weight.”iv
Editor’s Note: Muscle mass—more than any other factor—may determine how long you’ll live. Discover how to get a stronger body even as you get older. Get all the details in our monthly journal Independent Healing by clicking HERE.