A major study led by a team of Dutch researchers shows that one can be fat and remain healthy late into middle age if they make a minor lifestyle change. Scientists found that exercising lowers the risk of having a heart attack or stroke even if the person is obese.
For their study, researchers sifted through the health records of 5,300 adults, with the average age of 55. The volunteers were monitored for 15 years.
Researchers learned that participants who were both fat and did not exercise had a threefold risk of having a heart attack or stroke in middle age than people with a normal weight who exercised.
Surprisingly, overweight and even obese participants were able to offset the risk if they exercised for more than four hours a day. Being active for four hours implied doing any type of physical activity from working out to doing household chores.
Co-author of the study Dr Klodian Dhana underlined that the findings clearly show being active is directly linked to lower cardiovascular risk. The link was consistent in overweight and obese participants from middle age through old age,
Dhana, however, acknowledged that the research may have some limitations as the participants were over 55 years old, with the oldest of participants aged 70 on average. So, the link might not apply to younger people.
Obesity is usually tied to high cardiovascular risk because the extra fat tissue boosts the rate at which the blood is clotting, which drives up the cardiovascular risk. Physical activity, on the other hand, lowers the risk of clotting dramatically and reduces the heart’s need for oxygen.
Nevertheless, obesity not only ups risk of stroke and heart attack, but it also boosts risk of developing certain cancers, ashows.
The study was published this week in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.