Nutrition Action Healthletter
Jan/Feb 2000 — U.S. Edition 

Exploding Ten Exercise Myths

Try a Selection From Our Myth-O-Matic
You can’t be fit and fat.

“The notion that all fat people are sedentary and unfit and at high risk of disease is not true,” says Steven Blair of the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, Texas. “Overweight and obese individuals who are fit do not have elevated mortality rates. We need to get off those people’s backs.”
   But in Blair’s study of 25,000 men who have come to the Cooper Clinic, ten percent of the normal-weight men — and half of the overweight men — were unfit.
   Getting all of those unfit people — fat or thin — to move more could make a difference. In Blair’s study, low fitness was as strong (or stronger) a predictor of dying as other risk factors, like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Yet doctors rarely test a patient’s fitness as part of a checkup.
   “Fitness is such an important predictor of mortality, it’s inexcusable not to evaluate it as part of a person’s health risk,” says Blair.
   It wouldn’t cost much. It’s just a matter of measuring your heart rate — by measuring your pulse with a wristwatch — while you cycle, walk, or run at a given speed.
   “A stress test for diagnosis of coronary heart disease at a major medical center can cost several hundred dollars,” he says, “but you can go down to the YMCA and get a fitness test for 25 bucks.”

Illustrations: Loel Barr

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