Physical Inactivity Greater Risk than
Fat when it Comes to Heart Disease
When it comes to heart disease, being
fit may be more important than being thin, according to a study
of more than 900 women.
"Our study shows that the lack
of physical fitness is a stronger risk factor for developing
heart disease than being overweight or obese," said Timothy
Wessel, a physician at the University of Florida who headed
up the research.
The study involved 906 women
whose health histories were tracked from 1996 to 2000. Seventy-six
percent were overweight at the start of the study, when the
mean age of the group was 58.
In addition to being measured
for weight, the women were asked about their ability to do common
physical activities at home, work and at leisure, such as climbing
a flight of stairs, running a short distance or walking around
the block without stopping.
During the study, 68 of the women
died and 455 suffered a heart disease-related problem such as
a heart attack or stroke.
When analyzed by categories of
weight and activity, women who were at least moderately active
were less likely to develop heart disease or related problems
than women with low activity scores, no matter which weight
category they were in, according to the study published in this
week's Journal of the American Medical Association.
"These results suggest that fitness
may be more important than overweight or obesity for cardiovascular
risk in women," the study concluded.
Bairey Merz, a physician at Cedars-Sinai
Medical Center in Los Angeles and another of the study's authors,
said that because physical fitness "has beneficial effects on
many factors related to cardiovascular risk, including obesity,
increased activity appears to be an ideal therapy for women
with coronary heart disease."
He said the American Heart Association
endorses at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical
activity for women on most or all days of the week.
A second study published in the
same journal, however, found that being overweight is a bigger
risk factor than inactivity when it comes to adult-onset diabetes
"We observed a modest reduction
in the risk of diabetes with increasing physical activity level
compared with a large increase in the risk with increasing body
mass index," said the report from the Boston VA Healthcare System
and Brigham and Women's Hospital.
"Because physical activity is
a significant individual predictor and has a beneficial effect
on body mass index, it remains an important intervention for
diabetes prevention. Our study suggests that to further reduce
the risk of diabetes with physical activity, it should be performed
in conjunction with achieving weight loss," the study said.
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Reference Source 89