For better health and longevity, exercise is more important than losing weight, especially if you are overweight or obese, according to an interesting review of the relationship between health, weight, heart health and longevity, published this year.
The study, which analyzed the results of hundreds of previous studies on weight loss and exercise for men and women, found that obese people usually reduce their risk of heart disease and premature death by exercising more than losing weight or eating.
Reviews add evidence that most people can be healthy at any weight, if they also work hard enough.
I have written many times about the science of exercise and weight loss, many of which are, frankly, set-aside if your goal is to lose weight. This recent study largely shows that people who start exercising rarely lose weight, or do not lose weight at all, unless they also significantly reduce their food intake.
Exercise alone burns very few calories, in general, to help lose weight. We also tend to compensate for some of the low calorie consumption of exercise by eating more later or moving less, or unknowingly reducing our body’s metabolic activity to reduce daily energy consumption.
Glenn Gaesser, a professor of exercise physiology at Arizona State University in Phoenix, USA, is well aware that not exercising enough to reduce fat. For decades he has studied the effects of physical activity on people’s body structure and metabolism, as well as their endurance, with particular focus on obese people. Much of his previous research showed the futility of weight loss exercises.
In a 2015 trial she supervised, for example, 81 overweight women, who just sat down, began a routine of walking three times a week for 30 minutes. After 12 weeks, some of them lost a little fat, but 55 gained weight.
In another study by Drs. Gaesser, however, people who are overweight, obese and have significant health conditions, including high blood pressure, low cholesterol or insulin resistance – a type 2 diabetes mellitus – showed significant improvements in these conditions. after you start exercising, lose weight or not. .
Seeing these results, Gaesser began to wonder if fitness can allow overweight people to enjoy good metabolic health, regardless of their body weight, and possibly live as long as thin people – or even worse, if thin people do not. shape.
So, in a new study, published this month in iScience, she and her colleague Siddhartha Angadi, a professor of education and kinesiology at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, began searching for archives for previous studies related to nutrition, exercise, balance. metabolic health and longevity.
They were particularly interested in meta-analysis, which collects and analyzes data from many previous studies, allowing researchers to analyze results from more people than in most weight loss studies or bodybuilding exercises, which are relatively small.
They ended up with more than 200 meters analysis and important individual studies. So they decided to see what all this study, which included tens of thousands of overweight men and women, showed about the relative benefits of losing weight or gaining weight to improve metabolism and longevity. In fact, they asked if a person who is overweight could gain better health by losing weight or by getting up and moving.
They found that the competition was not fierce. “By direct comparison, the magnitude of the benefit was greater with the stabilization of balance than weight loss,” said Drs. Gaesser.
Overall, the studies they cite show that inactive, overweight men and women who start exercising and improving their shape can reduce their risk of premature death by up to 30% or more, even if their weight does not change. These improvements generally put them at a lower risk of premature death than people who are thought to be of normal weight but are not in shape, Drs. Gaesser said.
On the other hand, if pregnant people lose weight through diet (not disease), their statistical risk of infant mortality usually decreases by about 16%, but not in all studies. One study cited in a new study concluded that weight loss among obese people does not reduce the risk of death.
New reviews were not designed to accurately determine how exercise or weight loss affects longevity in people with obesity. But in many of the studies they looked at, Gaesser said, people who lost weight on nutrition regained it, and then tried again – a “yo-yo” method of weight loss that often contributes to metabolic disorders such as diabetes, high and low cholesterol. life expectancy.
On the other hand, practice tackles the same conditions, he said. It can also, unexpectedly, fill people’s oil stores.
“People who are overweight often lose some visceral fat when they exercise,” he said, although overall weight loss is minimal. Visceral fat, which accumulates in our bodies, increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other conditions.
Some of the studies they cite have found that exercise also alters molecular signals within other fat cells in ways that can improve insulin resistance, regardless of a person’s weight. “Exercise seems to make oil more efficient,” said Gaesser.
The main thing from the new review, he concluded, is that it is not necessary to lose weight in order to be healthy. “You will be better off, in terms of the risk of death, to increase your physical activity and balance than to lose weight intentionally,” he said.
Translated by Luiz Roberto M. Gonçalves