2 January 2013

Uganda: Skinny Is Not Necessarily Healthy

A new study with 431,479 participants has reinforced that an individual having relatively no weight troubles can be at risk of developing the same conditions as an obese individual without the proper amount of exercise.

Researchers found that 30 minutes of exercise can add an average of 3.5 extra 'good' years to one's life. Higher intensity exercise was found to boast even greater results - an additional 4.2 years.

There is stigma that overweight people are always sick and skinny people are generally healthy. The research highlights that one's weight and body type do not always matter. Choosing a healthy lifestyle and implementing proactive, preventative techniques like diet and exercise work for people of all waist sizes.

Obesity, BMI and longevity:

Obesity is infamous for causing diabetes and heart disease. BMI is a ratio of an individual's height to weight. A similar study has found waist size to be more useful than BMI in predicting the risk factors of disease. This system's effectiveness has been under question, as it fails to distinguish between physical fitness, muscle mass and the amount of body fat.

It should be no surprise that exercise is good for you and will help you live longer, but sadly the number of inactive people is growing.

As many as one in six deaths can be linked to physical inactivity, according to a 2012 study published in The Lancet. Dr. I-Min Lee, the lead researcher from Harvard Medical School said: "Only about a quarter of the world's population smokes, but about two-thirds are inactive."

The new study, published in the journal PLoS Medicine, also notes that an obese individual could be metabolically healthier than a sedentary, normal-weight one. Life expectancy could soar with 2.5 hours of moderate exercise and 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week.

Among the 431,479 participants, the one's with a 'normal' weight yet sedentary lifestyle were nearly twice as likely to die during the course of the study than the highly active obese participants.

The results of the study show that exercise can offset some of the longevity loss, commonly associated with tobacco use, diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Being physically active specifically added 2.5 years for smokers and 5.3 years for cancer patients.

'Widespread laziness':

The findings of the study should not downplay the importance of other lifestyle factors such as reducing stress, improving diet and limiting exposure to toxins such as smoking and alcohol. One's overall health is a combination of all items and neglecting one can cause disease to develop prematurely.

A lot of attention in the recent past has been placed on one's body weight as the primary problem while forgetting about exercise. Clinicians have found that it is ideal to be lean and fit, but fit and fat comes in as a close second. The important word is fit.

Get good health and lose weight:

There are two primary forms of exercise; aerobic and anaerobic. These two terms mean "with oxygen" and "without oxygen".

Aerobic is the type of exercise that utilises large amounts of oxygen via walking, jogging, running, biking and any type of exercise that is 15 minutes or more in duration. Anaerobic exercises are usually higher in intensity and shorter in duration.

Aerobic exercises are good for the heart, circulation and overall health, but can be bad for actual weight loss.

Stress hormones such as cortisol will stimulate appetite and increase fat storage. This is one of the reasons that one may struggle to lose weight even though one is exercising.

Low intensity, long duration exercise also plummets testosterone and human growth hormone - hormones that are necessary to build lean muscle.

Anaerobic exercises that are higher in intensity and shorter in duration have a very different effect on the body's physiology and hormone response.

When this form of exercise is applied properly, it is good for your heart, circulation, overall health and good for weight loss.

The human growth hormone and testosterone is released in the body in direct proportion to the intensity of the exercise. This hormone builds lean muscle and burns fat.

High intensity, short duration exercise builds muscle. Muscle has an increased metabolic activity compared to fat and will fend off weight gain. It is the amount of muscle - not age, gender or genetics that is the greatest determining factor for metabolism, future muscle development and fat loss.

High intensity, short duration exercise is the most effective form of exercise to balance hormones, reduce stress and lose weight. The outcome is a healthy, lean body.

Start your New Year's resolutions early, lose added weight and get physically fit in 2013.

This column is directed by your questions and comments. The advice provided is in collaboration with WHO and the International Diabetes Federation's goals of prevention, maintenance and natural treatment of disease. Email: info@drhealthshow.com. Facebook: Cory Couillard, Twitter: Cory_Couillard

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