Fitness for Health, Wellness and Prevention

Fat or Fit? 
Fitness is part of overall health and the notion of being fit means having a healthy body weight and the ability to perform physical fitness activities without tiring easily.

Unfortunately, studies show that Americans are not fit, they are actually fat and will continue to get fatter, quite the opposite of fit.

If Americans stay on this path, 83 percent of men will be overweight or obese by 2020. Women are right behind them, with 72 percent projected to be overweight or obese by then according to recent reports by Mark Huffman, an assistant professor of preventive medicine and cardiology at Northwestern University who presented them at the annual scientific meeting of the American Heart Association this week.
http://globalhealth.northwestern.edu/about/collaborations/huffman_bio.html

Today 32 percent of men and 34 percent of women are obese. Those numbers are projected to rise to 43 and 42 percent in 2020, nudging up toward half of all people.

Part of the problem is most traditional doctors avoid talking to patients about weight gain, exercise and proper nutrition, instead many write a prescription to treat a symptom versus prevent a cause. Imagine walking out of a doctor’s office with a prescription that reads:

  • Walk for 40 minutes a day three times a week
  • Take a yoga class 2 times a week
  • Weight training 2 x a week
  • Remove all sugar from your diet
  • Get 8-10 hours a sleep a night

Today’s Americans may be surprised at the mounds of evidence linking physical activity to numerous health improvements. Most significantly, regular physical activity greatly reduces the risk of dying from coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Physical activity also reduces the risk of developing diabetes, hypertension, and colon cancer; enhances mental health; fosters healthy muscles, bones and joints; and helps maintain function and preserve independence in older adults.

Be Fit or Die Fat? 
The new 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans state that an active lifestyle can lower your risk of early death from a variety of causes. There is strong evidence that regular physical activity can also lower your risk of:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Unhealthy cholesterol levels
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Colon cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Falls
  • Depression

Regular activity can help prevent unhealthy weight gain and also help with weight loss, when combined proper nutrition and hormonal balance. If you are overweight or obese, losing weight can lower your risk for many diseases and also reduce the symptoms of menopause, andropause and other hormonal imbalances. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, breathing problems, osteoarthritis, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea (breathing problems while sleeping), and some cancers.

Health Benefits or Being Fit vs. Fat
Regular physical activity can also improve your cardiorespiratory (heart, lungs, and blood vessels) and muscular fitness. For and women over 40, physical activity may also help:

  • Stimulate mental focus
  • Improve functional health
  • Reduce waistline size
  • Lower risk of hip fracture
  • Lower risk of lung cancer
  • Lower risk of endometrial cancer
  • Maintain weight after weight loss
  • Increase bone density
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Reduce stress

Contact a Chicago-based Ageology physician for more expert advice and tips on overall fitness, health, wellness, and more!