These excerpts from Australia’s Radio National’s Health Report interviewing Steve Blair (Professor of Exercise Science at the University of South Carolina).

They are extraordinary findings. 

Yes, this comes from a large epidemiological study (following about 80,000 people), we call it the aerobic centre longitudinal study and we’ve been following these people for now over 25 years and again and again, in different sub groups in women and in men, in healthy individuals and those who were sick at base line like with Type 2 diabetes, when we look at objectively measured fitness determined by a maximal exercise test on a treadmill and objectively determined body composition, not self reported height and weight, or not even just body mass index but hydrostatic weighing to estimate percent fat, skin folds, waist circumference, we look at all of those things and the conclusion we come to again and again is that it is low fitness that is a much more important predictor of mortality than is body mass index, fat distribution, overall percent body fat.

In our analyses over and over again fitness wipes out the hazard associated with obesity. When we look at obese men and women, at least up through class 2 obesity, I don’t think there are any fit 500 pound people, but if we look at class 1, class 2 obesity – A body mass index which is a ratio of weight to height 30 to 34.9 is class 1, 35 to 39.9 is class 2 – and well up into the class 2 obesity category we see that those who are fit as proven by the treadmill test, not because they told us they were physically active, we find their death rate is not elevated at all as compared with normal weight people who are also fit. And indeed we find that normal weight people who are unfit on the treadmill test are about twice as likely to die during a follow up of 10 or 12 years when we compare them with the obese people who are fit. You can be fat and fit . . .

The bottom line: get exercising at a level that improves your breathing.  If you are only moderately overweight this is what it’s all about. 

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