Research shows that obesity is associated with diseases such as high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol (dyslipidemia), and insulin resistance (diabetes).1 According to the 2010 US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), approximately 35 percent of US adults and 17 percent of US children are obese — figures that suggest many of us need to reach and maintain a healthy weight if we want to protect our health!2
Although genetics, metabolism, behavior, environment, culture, and socioeconomic status contribute to obesity, researchers suggest that balancing the number of calories you eat with those you burn is critical for maintaining a healthy weight.3 "Staying physically active is one of the best ways to get and keep fit, burn calories, and maintain a healthy weight," says Summit Medical Group physical therapist Michael R. Dunne, DPT, ATC.
The CDC and Summit Medical Group
recommend getting at least 30 minutes
of moderate- to high-intensity aerobic exercise each day.
"Reaching the CDC goal doesn’t mean you must run marathons,” says Dr. Dunne. “You can get the exercise you need by walking briskly in your neighborhood, hopping on a treadmill before or after work, using stairs instead of elevators, and walking to and from the train station to your office if you commute. The key is to get moving whenever you can and make activity a part of your daily lifestyle!"
If you are beginning a new exercise routine or planning to increase the intensity of your current workout, follow these important steps:
Start by talking with your doctor to be sure it's safe for you to start your plan
Ask your doctor what your heart rate should be during your workout so that you get the most from it
Gradually increase the intensity of your workout to avoid injury
Dr. Dunne adds, “If you are overweight or obese, a leisurely stroll won't get the excess weight off. Remember that you need to push yourself and break a sweat if you’re serious about losing weight.”
“To keep your exercise program interesting, include a friend for sociability, exercise in beautiful surroundings and on quiet roads where you don't have to worry about traffic, and listen to music. To keep your exercise effective, mix up your routine with different activities such as riding your bike, running, swimming at your local pool, taking dance classes, and using exercise tapes at home.
By avoiding obesity through fitness, you can help prevent other obesity-related illnesses such as:
Being overweight can place excess stress on your joints and cause inflammation. “Moving just 30 minutes daily, even 10 to15 minutes at a time, can ease joint pain, improve mobility, and reduce fatigue associated with arthritis, "says Arthritis Foundation Vice President of Public Health Patience White, MD4
Cancers of the breast, colon, rectum, esophagus, pancreas, kidney, thyroid, gallbladder, and uterus
Data from the 2007 National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) study estimate that approximately 34,000 new cases of certain cancers in men and 50,500 in women are related to obesity5
Researchers for the community-based Framingham Offspring Study showed that high blood pressure from obesity has a negative effect on cognitive function and visuomotor skills6
Depression and anxiety
Data from a 2006 National Institutes of Mental Health-funded study show an association between obesity and symptoms of depression and anxiety7
Studies show that obesity is an independent predictor of heart disease in both men and women8
"Most of us have family and work obligations that can make it difficult to exercise each day," says Dr. Dunne. "But reminding yourself about the consequences of not exercising can help motivate you. Knowing you don't have to take medication each day to control your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol can help get you moving; and knowing that you're doing all you can to minimize your risk for disease can give you and your loved ones peace of mind about your health."
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Preventing Chronic Disease Public Health, Research, and Policy. Bruce S, Riediger N, Zacharias J, Young T. Obesity and obesity-realted comorbidities in a Canadian first nation population. http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2011/jan/09_0212.htm. Accessed February 6, 2012.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overweight and Obesity. US obesity trends. http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/trends.html. Accessed February 6, 2012.
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overweight and Obesity. Causes and consequences. http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/causes/. Accessed February 6, 2012.
4. Arthritis Foundation.Obesity and Arthritis Linked. States report obesity drastically higher among adults with arthritis and on the rise. http://www.arthritis.org/obesity-report.php. Accessed February 6, 2012.
5. National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health. National Cancer Institute Fact Sheet. Obesity and cancer risk. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/obesity. Accessed February 6, 2012.
6. Wolf PA, Beiser A, Elias MF, Au R, Vasan RS, Seshadri S. Relation of obesity to cognitive function: importance of central obesity and synergistic influence of concomitant hypertension. The Framingham Heart Study. Curr Alzheimer Res. 2007;4(2):111-116.
7. Simon GE, von Korff M, Saunders K, Miglioretti DL, Crane PK, van Belle G, Kessler R. Association between obesity and psychiatric disorders in the US adult population. Arch Gen Psych. 2006. 63: 824-830.
8. Eckel RH. Obesity and Heart Disease. A statement for healthcare professionals from the Nutrition Committee, American Heart Association. Circulation. 1997;96:3248-3250.