Health Advice



Can fitness counter fatness?

Chika Anekwe, M.D., M.P.H., Harvard Health Blog on

Published in Health & Fitness

However, neither regular nor insufficient physical activity compensated for the negative effects of having either overweight status or obesity. In other words, individuals with overweight or obesity were at greater CVD risk than their counterparts with normal weight, regardless of physical activity levels.

These findings add to existing evidence that physical activity reduces — but does not eliminate — the effects of overweight or obesity on CVD risk.

What does this study mean for me?

Although the findings of this study may lead some to believe that all efforts toward improving health and longevity must be directed toward weight management, we must not ignore the non-weight related benefits of exercise, including improvements in energy metabolism, oxidative stress, inflammation, tissue repair and immunity.

Achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight is important for reducing your chronic disease risk, so your physician may recommend weight-loss treatments such as behavioral and lifestyle changes, medications, bariatric surgery, or some combination of the above. However, we must remember that obesity itself is a chronic disease, and one over which an affected individual often has no immediate control.


But something we can control is our level of physical activity. Whether for you that means running, walking, swimming, dancing, or lifting light weights, we can always move more, and if that helps us improve our health even a little bit, it’s a win-win.

(Chika Anekwe, M.D., M.P.H., is a contributor to Harvard Health Publications.)

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