Saturday, February 2, 2013

How Are Fitness and Weight Loss Related?

Nowadays, many people suffer from overweight problems, sedentary lifestyle, or both. If for some reason you decide to change only one of the issues - more physically active or lose weight, which could be the better option.

According to Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study, in which researchers monitor the health, body weight and exercise levels of more than 14,000 middle-aged men for 11 years, being more physically fit may be more beneficial than losing weight. The level of physical fitness of the participants was estimated by measuring their metabolic equivalents (MET) through a treadmill test.

The results showed that men who maintained their fitness levels, compared to those whose levels declined, over the course of the study, reduced the possibility of dying from cardiovascular disease by about 30%, even if they didn't lose any significant excess body weight. The men whose physical fitness was improved - reduced their chance for cardiovascular disease by 40%.

How Is Physical Fitness Measured?

There are countless definitions of physical fitness, related to feeling comfort in your body and having an athletic figure, but one of the most accurate ones reflects the ability of the cardiorespiratory system to supply energy/oxygen during low to moderate-intensity exercise, as well as the ability of the muscles to utilize that oxygen.
A clear and effective way to measure fitness levels is by using a treadmill for estimating peak physical capacity. While you are running on a treadmill, the speed and incline are gradually increased until you can't go any further. The fitness capacity is usually measured in METs - the amount of oxygen used while resting or sleeping. The respective number of METs is estimated through a formula according to the speed and incline at your peak performance.

Increase Fitness to Reach Closer to Your Healthy Weight

Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight, and increased physical activity are proven to be two of the best things you can do to improve your long-term health. But what if you are overweight and inactive? This study and many others suggest that being more active is a good starting step toward better health.

The increase in the amount of physical activity and/or exercise depends on age, gender, current fitness levels and individual characteristics. It is not important where you are starting from. If your fitness is low today, you can boost it with performing regular activity that challenges your body, and gradually improving it by slowly increasing its levels in the long-term. There is no need for strenuous exercise, in terms of health related fitness, it can often lead to more negative than positive effects. To challenge your body, means to work hard enough to speed up your heartbeat and breathing.

For people who don't regularly train their heart, lungs, and muscles, any increase in activity is great. But as much beneficial as physical activity is, it alone can't lead to great weight reduction. To further improve your health and decrease the risk of developing many diseases, this study and countless others before it, suggest that you still would want to reduce your excess body weight. This, of course is achieved by balanced nutrition and gradually reduced daily energy intake. Slow and gradual changes are essential, because it allows eating plans to be followed more easily, it gives enough time for the body to adapt to new changes, and the results are expected to be long-termed and sustainable.

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