Fat not good measure of fitness

In 1979, Covert Bailey first published a popular book entitled “Fit or Fat.” The book has sold nearly 900,000 copies to date.

The premise of his book was that the typical out-of-shape American could implement lifestyle choices that would make them either fit or fat. Mr. Bailey stated that you could be either fit or fat and that these characteristics were mutually exclusive. In short, a person could not be both fit and fat at the same time.

Recent research by a number of exercise scientists (including Dr. Steven Blair) has shown that a person can be BOTH fit and fat at the same time. Although the amount of body fat a person carries around has always been believed to be a measure of their health and fitness, recent research indicates that an individual’s cardiovascular conditioning is a better indicator of their overall health and fitness. As long as a person’s cardiovascular health is within normal limits, the amount of fat on their body really doesn’t matter.

Cardiovascular fitness refers to the ability of your heart, lungs and circulatory system (i.e., blood vessels) to deliver oxygen and nutrients to and carbon dioxide from your muscles effectively. Very generally speaking, being able to walk 1.5 miles in under 25 minutes or walking 3 miles total without stopping would be a good indication that your cardiovascular conditioning is above average.

Another indicator that your cardiovascular health is good despite your body fat levels would be to have a fasting blood test performed to determine what your blood lipid profile presently is. Asking your health provider to measure your total cholesterol, levels of HDL (good cholesterol), LDL (bad cholesterol), triglycerides, serum glucose (blood sugar) as well as your blood pressure and determining if these measures are within healthy ranges is a more important indicator of overall health than what you weigh on the bathroom scale.

In order to improve both your cardiovascular fitness as well as your blood lipid profile, adults should accumulate 30 minutes of more of moderated physical activity on most, preferably all days of the week. Children and teenagers should do 60 minutes or more of physical activity on a daily basis and include aerobic activities (walking biking and swimming), muscle-strengthening activities (climbing on the local outdoor playground equipment or lifting weights) and bone-strengthening activities (running and jumping).

Regardless if you are heavy or not, getting more physically active is one of the best things you can do to improve your overall health and wellness.

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