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Physical Activity May Counteract Negative Effects of Obesity

Being overweight or obese is usually associated with a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. However, a recent study suggests that physical activity may help reduce the negative cardiovascular impact of being overweight or obese.


Participants in the study included 5,344 people between the ages of 55 and 97 with an average age of 70 who took part in the Rotterdam Study. All of the participants were free of cardiovascular disease at the onset of the study. The researchers collected information about BMI, physical activity, smoking, alcohol intake, diet, education, and family history of premature heart attack during enrollment, which took place from 1997 to 2001.


All of the participants were placed into categories based on their BMI. Normal weight was 18.5-24.9 kg/m2, overweight was 25-29.9 kg/m2, and obese was greater than 30 kg/m2. They were also categorized based on whether they had low or high levels of physical activity. Low levels of activity were two hours per day, while high levels were four hours. Activity included biking, walking, and housework.


The researchers followed the participants from 1997 to 2012, tracking heart attacks and strokes. During that time, 16% of the study group had a cardiovascular event. After analyzing the data, the researchers found that physical activity was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, regardless of BMI. They found no association between BMI alone and cardiovascular disease. They also found that overweight or obese people who had low levels of physical activity were 1.33 and 1.35 times more at risk of developing a cardiovascular disease, respectively.


Researchers from Erasmus University Medical Centre in the Netherlands conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on January 1, 2017, in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.


Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health. Previous clinical studies suggest that even moderate exercise may help with blood sugar control, reduce body weight, improve heart health, improve respiratory health and reduce your risk of dying prematurely.

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