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Health Fusion: Can you be fit and fat at the same time?

If you're one of the many people who exercises like crazy, but can't shed weight, Viv Williams has some news for you. In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion" she shares details of a study about whether it's possible to be both fit and fat.

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Is it better to be fit or fat?
Viv Williams
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ROCHESTER — How many times have you started a new diet just to abandon it days later? I've done that a ton of times (no pun intended). Despite attempts to shed pounds, many people aren't successful with dieting and obesity continues to be on the rise worldwide.

But a study by researchers from Arizona State University and the University of Virginia found that when it comes to overall health, being fit is more important than what the numbers say when you step on the scale. The fit versus fat debate has been going on for a while, and this new data supports the benefits of moving more.

“We would like people to know that fat can be fit, and that fit and healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes,” says Dr. Glenn Gaesser, an exercise physiologist at ASU. “We realize that in a weight-obsessed culture, it may be challenging for programs that are not focused on weight loss to gain traction. We’re not necessarily against weight loss; we just think that it shouldn’t be the primary criterion for judging the success of a lifestyle intervention program.”

The study authors say a fitness focused approach is important because weight-loss is associated with physiological changes that can make losing pounds difficult.

Obesity is associated with many health issues, including an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, joint problems, diabetes and some cancers. But yo-yo dieting can be bad too, as it's associated with fatty liver disease, diabetes and muscle loss. Not to mention the frustration and stress that may result from repeatedly losing and gaining weight. The researchers say that focusing on fitness instead of losing weight may help people get the benefits of exercise without the risks of yo-yo dieting.

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How much should you exercise? They say public health guidelines recommend 2 1/2 to 5 hours a week of moderate intensity activity, such as walking, or 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours per week of vigorous exercise, such as jogging. But, the authors of this paper say that any exercise is good. They just want people to get off the couch and start moving more instead of obsessing over their next meal's calorie count.

The study is published in the journal iScience.

MORE HEALTH FUSION:
Your body adjusts to hot weather slowly. So when heat waves hit, you need to know how to hydrate and stay cool to avoid heat-related illness. This is especially true for babies and older adults. In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams gets tips from an emergency medicine doctor about how to stay healthy in extreme heat.

Follow the  Health Fusion podcast on  Apple,   Spotify and  Google podcasts. For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at  vwilliams@newsmd.com. Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.

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