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Keeping Fit and Active More Important Than Losing Weight: Study

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You only need to pick a magazine or visit most websites and you will come across weight loss advertisements running at the side margins. It seems as though a whole generation of people seem to think that being healthy can be achieved by losing weight.

And though this may be true to a certain extent with obesity rising to epidemic proportions in developed nations, it certainly is only a part of the equation, and as research found out, not the most critical part of the death risk equation.

According to a study done by the American Heart Association, a person’s risk of death is higher if the person is leading a sedentary lifestyle and not keeping fit through higher activity levels and exercise, even though their body weight and thus the body mass index (BMI) is in the normal range. (1)

Body mass index is a rough but popular measure that assesses the person’s weight unit for every height unit of the body and thus provides a ready indication if the person is in the normal weight range, overweight or obese range.

A BMI reading of under 25 is considered normal; a range between 25 and 29 is considered overweight; and readings 30 and beyond are rated as overweight. The main objective of the BMI is to have a person alter their lifestyle patterns like those that revolve around diet and exercise.

The study whose findings were published in the Journal of American Heart Association – Circulation had observed more than 14,000 men around 44 years old, from white middle or upper socio-economic strata of society for over a six-year period and was supported by the National Institutes of Health. However, to test the larger scope of the study, more tests would be required including women, different races and socioeconomic factors.

According to the lead researcher of the study, Duck-chul Lee, Ph.D who is also the physical activity epidemiologist in the Department of Exercise Science at the University of South Carolina's Arnold School of Public Health in Columbia, “This is good news for people who are physically active but can't seem to lose weight. You can worry less about your weight as long as you continue to maintain or increase your fitness levels.” (2)

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.