Fitness vs. Fatness: Which is more important?

December 13, 2011

In the battle of fitness versus fatness, which would come out on top? A new study finds that when it comes to longevity, how fit you are may be more important than your weight.

Published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, the study followed 14,358 middle-aged men over a period of 11.4 years. The participants that were the most fit (determined based on measurements of aerobic intensity on a treadmill) had a lower overall risk of death or dying from cardiovascular disease during the follow up period.

According to TIME, the men who maintained their fitness levels from the outset of the study lowered their risk of death by up to 30 percent compared to those who became less fit. The results were even better for those who improved their fitness, lowering their risk of death by up to 44 percent. For every unit of  improvement in fitness, there was a 15 percent decrease in death from any cause and a 19 percent decrease in death due to a heart related event.

The researchers found there was no association between changes in BMI and the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, reports The Washington Post.  Participants who lost fitness over the course of the study period were found to be at increased risk of death, despite any changes in their BMI.

For those wondering if how much we weigh is dependent upon how fit we are, lead study author, Duck-Chul Lee, tells TIME:

 “When you change your body weight, you have to consider whether you become more fit or not…If you gain weight, but become more fit, then that might be okay regarding your mortality risk. We have to start considering other factors when we talk about weight change and health outcomes.”

The researchers note that further research is necessary in order to determine if these findings would apply to women and those that are obese. 90 percent of the men in this study were either of normal weight or overweight at the start of the study.

Cold comfort

November 8, 2010

With winter around the corner, you may want to pay attention to the findings of a new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The results suggest that those who exercise regularly appear to have less frequent and milder colds.

The research team analyzed 1,002 men and women, ranging from ages 18 to 85 over a period of 12 weeks in the fall and winter of 2008. In addition to monitoring their health, the participants reported the types and amount of exercise they did weekly, as well as disclosing other factors, such as dietary patterns and stressful events.

The frequency of colds among those who exercised at least five days a week was up to 46 percent less than those who exercised only one day a week or not at all, HealthDay reports. The number of days with cold symptoms was also shortened – 41 percent lower for those who exercise at least five days a week. The severity of cold symptoms decreased by 41 percent among those who felt the most physically fit, and by 31 percent among those who were the most physically active.

As lead study author David C. Nieman, Director of the Human Performance Laboratory in North Carolina told the Chicago Tribune:

“At least 20 minutes per session, five or more days a week – rises above all other lifestyle factors in lowering sick days during the winter and fall cold seasons.”

Even though multiple factors that could potentially affect susceptibility to colds were taken into account, researchers did report a number of limitations to the study. These include lack of controlling all variables that can affect a cold, such as exposure to germs in the workplace or from children in the home.

Vital Statistics

November 20, 2009

Wii may actually be a real form of exercise

Games from Wii Fit and Wii Sports really do help burn off some calories. The study, funded by Nintendo and presented at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association, found that about one-third of the games in Wii Sports and Wii Fit are equivalent to moderate intensity exercise. The game that helps to burn the most calories is the single-arm stand in Wii Fit, followed by boxing in Wii Sports.

How communication drives work performance

According to a new survey by Watson Wyatt, companies that have effective communication have a 47 percent higher return to shareholders over a period of five years. The survey also found that highly effective communicators are 37 percent more likely to report that their social media tools are cost-effective. Watson Wyatt defines effective communication as having courage, innovation and discipline.

How efficient are energy-efficient light bulbs?

A new study published in Engineering and Technology magazine reveals that the packaging for energy efficient light bulbs may be misleading consumers. The study found that the energy efficient bulbs lose an average of 22 percent of their brightness over their lifetime, compared to about 7 percent with traditional light bulbs.

Read the rest of this entry »

Colon Blow or Asteroid Bang?

June 2, 2008

A professional astronomer who studies near-Earth asteroids weighs in on the recent debate, sparked by an Atlantic Monthly story, over what we should do to counter the threat of being struck from outer space. After describing the complexities of estimating the risk, and some rather tricky unforeseen consequences of going Bruce Willis on an inbound chunk of rock (what if the U.S. unilaterally knocked it into another country; what if another country acting unilaterally, knocked it into us), he concludes:

I think it’s good that this debate is happening.  But I think I can assure you that in terms of immediate threats to your health, you should focus instead on making sure you exercise and eat lots of fiber.

For the rest of his analysis, check out The Sky is Falling on Andrew Sullivan’s The Daily Dish. Indeed, exercising more and eating more fiber probably outweighs the risks of walking barefoot in the grass.

Thin People Like Running; Overweight People Like Relaxing

January 29, 2008

It may sound like a study from the Duh department at Obvious U., but the consequences of giving obese and thin rats exercise wheels to play with speaks to an essential, and possibly intractable, problem with exercise as a means towards losing weight.


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