A few questions ago someone asked me how to find creditable journal articles. Write this name down, Steven N. Blair. One of the number one, if not the #1 person, for exercise interventions and large popluation studies in fitness. His group just published a new article that I will highlight for you below.
Introduction: How fit someone is as well as how fat someone is are both strong predictors of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors and mortality. Some studies suggest that being fit can attenuate the harmful effects of being fat. That is to say, you can be overweight but as long as you are fit, it helps eliminate risk factors of CVD. However, this group points out that there is a continuous change between being fit or fat, which could skew the results. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the independent and combined associations of changes in fitness and fatness within the development of risk factors of CVD; hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and hypercholesterolemia.
Results: After a 6 year follow-up, participants (all 3,148 of them) who maintained or improved fitness had 26% and 28% lower risk of hypertension, 42% and 52% lower risk of metabolic syndrome, and 26% and 30% lower risk of hypercholesterolemia compared with those who last fitness. On the other hand, those who increased in percent body fat, had 27%, 71%, and 48% higher risk of hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and hypercholesterolemia. Interestingly, every 1-MET improvement in fitness between the beginning of the study and the follow-up was associated with a 7%, 22%, and 12% lower risk of subsequent incidence of hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and hypercholesterolemia. On the fat side, every unit increase in BMI or percent body fat was associated with increases in higher risks of these CVD risk factors. Similar results were found when looking at just waist circumference. Finally, both losing fitness regardless of fatness and gaining fatness regardless of fitness change were associated with a higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome.
Discussion/Conclusion: Maintaining a certain level of fitness or improving on that level seems to alleviate, although not completely terminate, some of the negative effects of fat gain. In addition, losing body fat can reduce CVD risk factors associated with a loss in fitness. It is important to note that both, separately, are important risk factors in the development of CVD.
My input: Keep in mind when reading these results that they are correlations and that does not give us a cause-effect relationship. Other than that, I’m going to let Dr. Blair give you his final input this time (I urge you to please click this link) on this topic because he says it so much better than I could:
“My recommendation is to focus on good health habits, no matter what number you see on the scale. Give fruits, vegetables and whole grains a major place in your daily diet. Be moderate about fat and alcohol. Don’t smoke. Work on managing stress. Perhaps most important, get out
of your chair and start moving for at least 30 minutes every day.”
Lee et al J Am Coll Cardiol. 2012 Feb 14;59(7):665-72.