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Can You Be Both Overweight and Fit?

When it comes to heart problems, it has been assumed that it's OK to be a bit overweight as long as you exercise regularly. New research is challenging this notion and this new research shows that being active can decrease but not eliminate your risk of heart problems. A new study that followed 39,000 women over 11 years discovered that weight actually plays a significant role in heart health.

The women participating in the study were assessed by their level of activity as well as their Body Mass Index (BMI). Women who exercised moderately (brisk walking or jogging) for 30 minutes most days of the week were considered active, and those who exercised less were categorized as inactive. To see the results of the study,


MSNBC reports the study's findings like this:

Compared with normal-weight active women, the risk for developing heart disease was 54 percent higher in overweight active women and 87 percent higher in obese active women. By contrast, it was 88 percent higher in overweight inactive women; and 2½ times greater in obese inactive women.

The study shows exercise helps overweight women decrease their risk of developing heart disease, but the extra weight still contributes to their overall risk. Maintaining a healthy weight is important since two out of five women over the age of 50 will have heart attacks or other cardiovascular problems, it's good to start thinking about this now. Exercising and eating a healthy diet, essentially making important lifestyle changes will help your heart and your overall health.

Fit's Tips: Thin doesn't necessarily equal healthy either. If you are thin and have a low BMI but also smoke, are inactive, or eat foods high in saturated fat, you may be increasing your risk for heart problems as well.


Join The Conversation
juicylove juicylove 9 years
overweight like that girl in the picture? i wouldnt think thats healthy. maybe just.. a little overweight. i dont really know
hkmarks hkmarks 9 years
OK, 164.7 then :P
jessy777 jessy777 9 years
Height: 5 feet, 8 inches Weight: 165 pounds Your BMI is 25.1, indicating your weight is in the overweight category for adults of your height. BMI Weight Status Below 18.5 Underweight 18.5—24.9 Normal 25.0—29.9 Overweight 30.0 and Above Obese The above comes from the CDC. I was pointing out, and agree, that BMI is not correct. The sin tax goes with the same plan to refuse service to overweight individuals. At 165, I would fall into that category. My current weight puts me a few points from obese, but I am extremely active. A weight of 140 would put me right in the middle of normal, but there is too much emphasis on the number. I also do not believe my body structure would be healthy at a weight of 140 and my doctor has agreed.
hkmarks hkmarks 9 years
jessy777 - 130 to be "normal"? Not at all. The "normal" BMI range is about 18-25. The weight for a BMI of 25 at 5'8" is 165 lbs. It's fine to be at the top end of the range, or even a little above it if you're active. It means you have more energy reserves which can help your resistance to cold and help you recover from illness. BMI is also pretty inexact because it doesn't take into account bone structure or muscle.
jessy777 jessy777 9 years
You can be obese and be active. I was considered obese because my BMI was over 30 when I was in high school but I played sports, danced and was a cheerleader. That is why I disagree with any statistics related to BMI because I personally see how wrong it is. I have since lost weight but I am still in the overweight category and am very active. I currently weigh 178 and I am 5'8", to be classified as normal I would have to weigh right around 130 lbs. I just think that would be too skinny for my body type. I hoping to get to around 150 and then I that is my happy and healthy weight.
love_my_life love_my_life 9 years
I have a BMI of over 30 - so obese (see my photo - hardly wheelchair bound - and with a 29" waist). I'm doing my first triathlon in July.
Spectra Spectra 9 years
I thought I was fit but fat, but it turns out that I had a LOT of room for improvement. I told myself that I had a lot of muscle, but even though I was fairly active, I wasn't as active as I could be. Once I got a lot more active and lost some weight, I got a lot more fit and every day activities became a lot more easy. I guess it's theoretically possible to be fit and overweight, but I think it's probably easier on your joints to be normal-weight and fit.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 9 years
I was extremely fit and morbidly obese. I went to the gym every other day for two hour workouts and on my off days I walked no less than 5 miles and I ate very healthy (I just ate a lot of the healthy food). I had colonscopies, echocardiograms, xrays, and blood work ups and wow I didn't have diabetes (wasn't even borderline type 2), no high blood pressure,no high cholesterol, no fatty liver or heart problems and I had no internal fat (the most dangerous place to carry fat). I remember that after my gastric bypass my surgeon said he was shocked that there was no fat on my liver, intestines, or heart. He said that I was actually very skinny on the inside and that my fat was all external. He remarked that I should make a complete recovery from being morbidly obese. I was just huge and thought that that was the way I was unfortunately always going to be and it was the way my old body wanted to be. I am pretty shocked at how small I am and how small and delicate my bone structure is, its very weird and a little unsettling to go from being a linebacker to a ballet dancer. The only thing that ever hurt me when I was obese was other people casting judgment on me because of my size. They were just compounding the internal beating I was giving myself.
zebeckras zebeckras 9 years
I'd also be interested in knowing how all of these (esp. overweight active women/obese active women) compare to "normal-weight" INactive women for risk of developing heart disease. I have to say that this seems vaguely biased because it downplays the obvious good effect that exercise does have in *reducing* the risk of heart disease and makes it sound like if you can't lose the weight you might as well not try; and it doesn't touch at all on how inactivity can affect women who aren't overweight by BMI standards. I work for a medical journal and I have to say that based on the criteria I've seen, this should be a minor study b/c the "inactive normal-weight" category of women seems to be ignored (or maybe it's just not being played up by the media, which wouldn't surprise me either).
yasume yasume 9 years
Yes, one can be overweight and fit. That BMI scale doesn't distinguish between fat and muscle mass. My husband is a muscular guy who lifts weights and runs 5 days a week (He has a football player build). He is considered overweight according to BMI.
Puzzle2397 Puzzle2397 9 years
It's definitely possible because people with a lot of muscle mass can fall into the upper ranges of the BMI scale! =)
Ikandy Ikandy 9 years
"Compared with normal-weight active women, the risk for developing heart disease was 54 percent higher in overweight active women and 87 percent higher IN OBESE ACTIVE WOMEN. By contrast, it was 88 percent higher in overweight inactive women; and 2½ times greater in obese inactive women" How can one be obese and active??? I think u can be overweight and fit...but not obese.
TidalWave TidalWave 9 years
It's definitely possible! Everyone plateau's somewhere; and working out is a lot healthier than crash dieting
Punkingirl Punkingirl 9 years
I would consider myself overweight and fairly fit. I eat well (save the odd occassion here and there), exercise six days a week for at least an hour, and teach three yoga classes per week. I'm working on losing weight but sense that perhaps I'm in the grey area right now i.e. dedicated, consistent but still having work to do. I do think that it's possible to be healthy and overweight with exceptions. It really depends on what we mean by overweight. I have a hard time believing that someone who is morbidly obese can be fit as well. I don't put much stock into BMI because it doesn't factor in muscle mass. I agree that the stress that is put on some overweight people can contribute to their health issues. It sometime seems like a catch 22 situation in that they are told to lose weight and get healthy but also beraded (or berad themselves)when it doesn't happen quickly enough or isn't quite reflected on the outside. You simply can not look at every overweight person and assume they are unhealthy or unfit.
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
Not as overweight as the girl in the picture. You'd still have joint problems, a higher risk for heart disease and stroke. If you worked out enough to be fit you wouldn't be too overweight. You'd have to eat a lot which would make you unhealthy in other ways.
julibul julibul 9 years
But isn't it also true that "fatter" people survive heart attacks better anyway? Maybe it all evens out. I'm in an Italian family, and all of our gatherings are centered around lots and lots of "hearty" foods that aren't necessarily healthy. Yet they seem to live long lives. Sometimes I think the stress placed on overweight people by both society and themselves contributes a lot if not more so on their health problems.
jessy777 jessy777 9 years
I do not think you can overweight and completely fit. I think that the health risks are there but that if take care of yourself and eat right I do not see that an extra 20 lbs would increase the risk that much. I am still working to hit my target weight but every physical I have had has shown I am healthy, even at a higher weight. That is why I took action when I did so it doesn't develop into something more. It is important to stay fit and active, eat right and not fill your body with toxins. Then again, I know people who ate red meat everyday, never exercised, smoke and drank and carried a good 40 extra pounds and lived to 93 (my great grandfather) so no theory is universal.
Renees3 Renees3 9 years
my best friend is the thin but fat on the inside type. I've been trying to get her to eat a bit healthier, but she east fast food sometimes 3 times a day!!! It's crazy. While I'm overweight (20 more lbs to go) I know I'm much healthier then her, I workout, eat well, don't smoke and try to take care of myself.
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