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Body Mass Index and Fitness Level

Posted Nov 30 2008 12:15pm

I came across an interesting article in the New York Times titled better to be fat and fit than skinny and unfit.  Throwing obese (B.M.I. > 35) individuals out the window, The Journal of the American Medical Association’s study shows that death rates of ‘overweight’ (30 > B.M.I. > 25) 60 year olds were slightly lower than ‘normal’ (25 > B.M.I.) 60 year olds during a 12 year study.

I’m 28 years old, 6 ft tall and 180 lbs (B.M.I. 24.4 kg/m2) and consider myself at an above average fitness level; being near the overweight line this finding doesn’t surprise me.  What I was intrigued with is that ‘normal’ and ‘overweight’ individuals in this study who failed a simple 5-8 minute treadmill incline and pace increase test were 4 times more likely to die during the course of the study that those who passed.

The underlying premise here is maintaining fitness levels decreases your chances of heart disease as it helps maintain healthy levels of cholesteral, blood pressure, and blood sugars.  Because of this some public health officials are recommending doctors perscribe physical activity over dieting.  What a crazy idea - staying in shape improves life expectancy.

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