You cant 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 peoples backs.
But in Blairs 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 Blairs 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 patients fitness as part of a checkup.
Fitness is such an important predictor of mortality, its inexcusable not to evaluate it as part of a persons health risk, says Blair.
It wouldnt cost much. Its 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