I give almost all of my patients a prescription for exercise, just as I would for any other part of their treatment plan. However I’m not naive to the fact that people hate to exercise. In fact, I’d be willing to bet most of my patients would say it’s the hardest recommendation I give them.
And it’s not just overweight or obese people who experience this feeling of inertia when it comes to exercise. It happens in most people. In fact, even I have a hard time getting back into my routine if I have been away or too busy (which is the case for many people this time of year).
But as daunting as it can be to begin an exercise regimen, it’s absolutely one of the best things you can do for your health. Especially if you’re overweight or obese.
It’s a well-known medical fact that disease risk is lower in metabolically healthy obese adults than in their unhealthy obese counterparts.
I know I came out strong against the “obesity paradox” just a few weeks ago. But to be perfectly clear, I am only saying that among people who are obese or overweight, there are those that are healthier than others simply because of their exercise status — at least according to a new study
According to a year-long study of 3,457 British adults, engaging in moderate to vigorous forms of exercise for more than 2.5 hours a week had measurable health benefits.
The participants ranged in age from 60 to 82, and were either a normal-weight, overweight, or obese. Members of any group were considered “healthy” if they had less than two of the following risk factors: low HDL cholesterol, hypertension, high blood glucose, high triglycerides, and insulin resistance.
Out of the 616 obese subjects, 26% fell into the “healthy obese” category. And the difference came down to how much physical activity they got.
When it came time to analyze the data, not surprisingly, the healthy, normal weight adults clocked in with the most activity. But the “healthy obese” exercised significantly more than the “unhealthy obese.”
And there was no room for cheating, because this study used a device that tracked physical activity called an “accelerometer” (which is sort of like a Fitbit worn on the wrist). So it gave more precise results than just relying on a questionnaire, which doesn’t always accurately reflect what is really happening.
So, there you have it — exercise is key to becoming healthier. No matter what your weight.
And getting yourself into the right mindset is half the battle here. So, here’s an “exercise prescription” from me to you.
Try not to get caught up in the “all or nothing” mindset, where you think you have to do an hour of Crossfit or run 10 miles every day for the rest of your life.
Find something that gives you pleasure. You can play tennis, swim, or even just walk around your neighborhood with a friend. Anything that gets your heart beating and keeps you moving.
It’s best to start slow with something you know you can do, even if it’s once a week, especially when you’re getting started.
Then, obviously, staying the course is key.
Work up to 20 minutes a day, a few days a week, and over time your efforts will add up.