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The dogma of prevention: “Reduce weight, increase exercise!”

Today’s life-style is considered as the most sedentary in human history. Unfortunately, less than one in three adults exercises adequately, i.e. for an average of 25-30 minutes daily. An impact of this life-style is the involuntary increase of body weight which comes on in the form of fat. Measurement of body fat is the most precise method of estimating how healthy the composition of our body is.

Since 1998, the levels of obesity have been classified using the body mass index (BMI). The formula of BMI calculation was chosen because it is simple and related to the body fat composition, although it does not take into consideration a person’s body type or its personal body composition in muscle and fat. Even though it does not directly calculate the body fat percentage, it readily picks up overweight and obese individuals, and is used in both men and women.

For calculation of the BMI, the body weight (in kilograms) is divided by the square of the height (in metres).

Lean Below 18.5
Normal 18.5 – 24.9
Overweight 25.0 – 29.9
Obese 30.0 and above

As the index increases, so gradually increase the risks (morbidity and mortality) related to:

  • high blood pressure
  • high level of lipids in the blood
  • type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • coronary artery disease
  • iscaemic strokes
  • gallbladder and biliary problems
  • osteoarthritis
  • sleep apnoea
  • respiratory problems
  • certain types of cancer

If we try to lose weight by dieting alone, we will lose some muscle mass too; however, muscular tissue is the main tissue we have to regulate body weight. Muscle cells – unlike fat cells – consume energy at all times even when we are asleep. Every kilogram of muscle burns 80-85 kcal per 24 hours at full rest. Fat burns almost nil. Increasing the muscle mass gives a boost to metabolism, and the body burns energy faster and more efficiently.

There is only one way to lose weight: Eating less calories than what your body uses each day!

Regular exercise is a significant part of effective weight loss with reduction of fat mass and increase of muscle mass. One of its benefits is the generalized reduction in insulin requirements, and this is very important for people with diabetes. All successful strategies to reduce body weight emphasize the role of exercise. As exercise (or systematic physical activity) is defined every regular activity which causes a rise of the heart rate to levels well above the resting rate by the use of a large group of muscles or the co-ordinated function of many muscle groups. Examples of aerobic exercise are walking, jogging, aerobic exercise, swimming, cycling, dancing, team sports etc. Read more about the benefits of regular aerobic exercise.

Despite the difficulty to reliably calculate the amount of physical activity, various studies have come to the conclusion that a high level of exercise plays a protective role against weight gain and obesity; therefore, it is strongly recommended. We have got to regard exercise and training of obese individuals as a necessity for better health, no matter whether it will lead to weight loss or not (Read Even small increases in activity in inactive individuals may be beneficial to public health).

“Eat a little, move more!”

Last modified 02/02/2015