Fat Men, Fit Men: Who Stands the Better Chance at Health?
By Sandra Adamson Fryhofer, MD, from Medscape
Two thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese, and some people can’t seem to reach a normal weight — which is a BMI of less than 25 — even though they exercise regularly. A new study in Circulation used data from the Aerobic Center Longitudinal Study that looked at more than 14,000 men with a mean age of 44, and followed them for more than 11 years. The findings were surprising.
In this study, fitness was more important than weight loss in reducing death from all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. Getting fit, staying fit, and improving fitness are all important. Metabolic equivalents (METs) were used to measure the intensity of aerobic exercise, specifically the metabolic rate during an individual exercise session, compared to metabolic rate at rest.
Cardiorespiratory fitness using METs was evaluated by performance on a treadmill test. In this study, for every 1-MET improvement in fitness, mortality was reduced by 15%-20%. Compared to men who didn’t exercise and lost fitness, men who maintained their fitness levels had, on average, a 30% lower death rate. For men who improved their fitness the results were even better — on average, a 40% decrease in mortality rate.
Staying fit requires exercise. Men who lost fitness had double the risk of cardiovascular disease mortality. Ninety percent of the men in this study were either normal weight or overweight with a BMI of less than 30, so could the results be different in a group of men who are morbidly obese?
We must share these results with our patients. It encourages fitness. It encourages patients to exercise, and when they exercise they feel better. They think more about what they eat and start eating healthier, and that extra exercise may help them drop some pounds.
The bottom line is no matter what you eat, exercise. Do it and keep doing it. Getting fit, staying fit, and improving fitness can add years to your bottom line. For Medicine Matters, I am Dr. Sandra Fryhofer.
Dr. Pinna says:
I don’t care whether you are eight or eighty, IF YOU ARE A MALE YOU ARE BUILT TO FIGHT! Your genes tell every cell in your body that they must function at the optimum level.
A male must defend his family and his species. There is no other way. Humans would not be on the planet today if their ancestor males did not take on every predator. Thus, you are never too old to exercise. Exercise is a civilized way of fighting.
Get off the couch! Take your fat belly to the gym! Exercise, buddy! or… you will disappear!