With TV shows like “The Biggest Loser” and “Heavy,” and countless ads for weight loss programs, a lot of emphasis is put on our weight and pant size. But when it comes to actual health parameters, such as cholesterol and blood pressure, does it really come down to a number on the scale or is it possible to be fit at any size?
A recent study examined whether exercise alone was enough to keep these parameters in healthy ranges even after weight regain. The results revealed a mixed bag: people who exercised had better blood glucose levels than those who did not exercise, but cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as waist circumference returned to dangerous levels upon weight regain regardless of exercise.
Perhaps the most alarming part of the study was that weight regain occurred on a healthy, but calorically excessive diet. This implies that the scale is actually a pretty good measure of overall health. More studies are needed to confirm these results as exercise has long been regarded as an important component of cardiovascular health at any weight.
Metabolic syndrome, a cluster of symptoms associated with increased risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes, often accompanies obesity. However, these symptoms can often resolve with weight loss. Metabolic syndrome is defined as the presence of 3 or more of the following:
- Blood pressure greater than 130/80
- Waist circumference greater than 40” in men or 35” in women
- Triglycerides greater than 150
- HDL Cholesterol lower than 40 in men or 50 in women
- Fasting blood glucose greater than 110
So don’t let these results keep you on the couch. Looking beyond metabolic syndrome, exercise is an important component of weight loss and weight maintenance, and also contributes to strength, mood, and bone health, and improves energy and sleep.