A quick look at popular culture tells us that you can’t be fit and fat.
But, scientists are starting to speak out more and more about the truth of their research into body fat and what it really means for our health.
A new study co-authored by MaryFran Sowers, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan, says that fitness is more important to the state of your health than is your weight!
This information has been around for decades, is often discussed in the books about the fallacy and politics of the obesity epidemic, but as Ms Sowers says, the terms “overweight” is often used indiscriminately.
And the word has also popularly come to mean “unhealthy” and “early death”.
The research is showing though that no matter how often your favourite magazine or TV shows repeats that mantra, it’s just not true. you CAN be fit AND fat.
Classic Fit and Fat Study
Another study at the Cooper Research Institute in Dallas put people in a treadmill at a brisk walking pace, with the incline increasingly slowly.
A man was classified as ‘fit’ if he could stay on the treadmill for 8 minutes, a woman for 5.5 minutes. The study ran for 12 years, and found those people who were not fit had twice the risk of early death as those who were fit – regardless of their weight.
Read that again – regardless of their weight.
The study’s authors are amongst many who are starting to say: doctors should be focussing less on their fat stigma by telling patients to lose weight for every possible condition, and more time helping them understand the very real benefits of even moderate physical activity. In this study, the benefits were very clear in just eight minutes a day.
How much time does it take to get fit?
A few years back my friend Dr Tom Cuddihy of Qld University of Technology’s Faculty of Human Movement Studies did a study into fitness.
He found that short bursts of activity were at least as beneficial to your fitness level as a longer period. Some of his study subjects walked at a brisk pace for 6 minutes, five times a day, and at the end of the study they were at least as fit as those who had walked for 30 minutes once a day.
As I recall, Tom said it meant there was no reason at all for everyone to be at least moderately fit.
Right, it’s the treadmill for me, away from keyboard and comfy counselling armchair, for a few short stints! Fitness is way more important than any weight – so you can be fat and fit!
This article is part of the Body Fat: Good, Bad or Ugly? series, click here to read more.