Your Normal Body Weight May Do Little For Your Health, Unless You Get Moving5 years ago | Sedentary Lifestyle
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
The following story really says it all.
“For the first 37 years of my life, I had always been that girl,” wrote a woman named Danielle Braff, in a report.
“It was — *humble brag time* — easy for me. No ice-cream, cake (yes, I have a sweet tooth), or lack of a vigorous workout could make me gain more than a pound or two, which always miraculously seemed to simply fall off when I wasn’t trying.”
And while many would consider Danielle lucky to not be overweight and basically eat whatever she wants, she actually had a very rude awakening healthwise. Despite being a size 2, she discovered during her first time getting a cholesterol evaluation that her cholesterol level was so dangerously high that it was approaching stroke level!
Clearly, we have to let go of the mindset that skinny equals healthy and that the main purpose of being physically active is to look good and feel better in a swimsuit. Although looking good can be a great perk of working out, we have to remember that if we don’t move our bodies, we significantly increase our chances of dying from preventable diseases. This holds true for people who don’t have any weight issues.
Take heart disease, for example, which is the leading cause of death in the United States. A recent study from the University of Florida found that people at a normal weight (not overweight or obese) had the same cardiovascular risks as overweight people if they led a sedentary lifestyle.
“Our study demonstrates that a sedentary lifestyle counters the benefit of being at a normal weight when it comes to heart disease risk,” said one of the lead researchers, in one report provided by the university.
“Achieving a body mass index, or BMI, in the normal range shouldn’t give people a false sense of confidence they’re in good health. If you’re not exercising, you’re not doing enough.”
We have previously discussed the importance of body composition and not just focusing on the number on the scale. You do not have to be overweight in order to have excess body fat. You have likely heard the term ‘skinny fat,’ but may have not realized that having this body type can be detrimental to your health. A person can appear slim and healthy but actually be just as unhealthy as someone who is very overweight.
(Also keep in mind that being underweight (too thin) may also increase our risk of having cardiovascular disease. So having both a healthy body weight and body composition are very important).
The study discovered that 30 percent of American adults with a normal weight are at an increased risk for having a heart attack or stroke. Researchers examined adults ages 40 to 79 who had never previously been diagnosed with coronary heart disease, heart attack or stroke. Variables taken into consideration included whether the person smoked, had diabetes, had high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels and had inadequate physical activity levels.
“These adults had higher levels of belly fat, shortness of breath upon exertion, unhealthy waist circumference or less than recommended levels of physical activity.”
(For current recommended levels of physical activity, read here).
Belly fat, also called visceral fat, is the most dangerous type of fat a person can have.
“Visceral fat makes more of the proteins called cytokines, which can trigger low-level inflammation, a risk factor for heart disease and other chronic conditions. It also produces a precursor to angiotensin, a protein that causes blood vessels to constrict and blood pressure to rise,” reports Harvard Health.
This recent study is a big deal for medical professionals trying to tackle cardiovascular issues. “Sedentary lifestyle markers may play a better role in predicting cardiovascular disease risk.”
So perhaps at your next doctor’s appointment, your doctor should be asking the following:
- How many hours in the day would you say you spend sitting?
- How long is your commute to work? Do you drive? Take public transportation? Walk or ride a bike?
- How much television do you watch per day?
- Do you take standing and walking breaks if you have a desk job?
- How many minutes of exercise do you get per day? Per week?
- Do you spend most of your weekend or free time lounging?
- Do you get ‘winded’ after little physical activity? For example, briskly walking or after climbing a few stairs.
- Do you dread exercising? What are some ways to explore finding something you like?
In the meantime, I think it’s extremely important to ask yourself these questions and answer them as honestly as possible. See where you can improve and start implementing small, gradual changes. If you strive for consistency, not perfection, I think you will find that you will greatly increase your physical activity levels, feel better both mentally and physically and eventually have better health test scores at your next doctor’s appointment. Also ask your doctor about testing your VO2max.
It is important to incorporate both strength training and aerobic activity. If you need a jumpstart to get moving, read here for some helpful tips. It is great if you are someone who can work out for 30 minutes to an hour without stopping. But if you struggle with this, you can break up your workouts into 10 minute intervals and work your way up to longer exercise periods.
And Don’t Forget Nutrition
You can’t outtrain a bad diet. Regular physical activity does not give you a license to eat excessive amounts of nutrient-void and processed junk foods.
It is extremely important to fuel your bodies with heart-healthy nutrients, like magnesium, calcium, sodium (in moderation) and potassium. So incorporate plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in your daily diet, which are rich in these nutrients and other vitamins and minerals that will help prevent inflammation and reduce your risk of having cardiovascular issues.
And now that you will be rushing to the gym after reading this blog, remember that it is imperative to fuel your body properly to perform well at your workouts and recover efficiently post workout.
Finally, include routine comprehensive nutrient tests as part of your healthcare regimen. If you are nutritionally unbalanced, (having too much or too little of a specific nutrient), you may increase your risk of developing cardiovascular issues and find it difficult to perform physically. If the test reveals an imbalance, a competent healthcare professional can help you with making the necessary dietary changes and/or recommend quality supplements you can take.
Let’s get moving!
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.