Are those two words mutually exclusive in your mind? Can you be fit but not thin? Can you be thin but not fit?
For a long time I associated thinness with fitness. Over the years I’ve learned that those two words do not automatically go together. Case in point:
I did a 5K not too long ago, and a woman 10 years older than I am sailed up the hill past me like she was on wings. She was technically overweight but her weight did not slow her down on the 5K. I was impressed and a bit surprised. On the other side of the coin was a very thin, fit-looking young woman. She was probably in her early 20’s and she barely finished the race. She was struggling (as was I) on the hills and finished quite a bit behind me even though she was much thinner than I will ever be.
Please know that I’m not judging either lady. We all finished our own races and all were proud of ourselves. My question is about fitness and thinness.
Here’s a study by cardiologist C. Noel Bairey-Merz. She found
“That women who were routinely physically active and overweight were less likely to suffer heart problems than their normal weight counterparts who didn’t exercise. And conversely, normal weight women who did not exercise, she says, increased their risk of cardiovascular disease. “They don’t have the cardiovascular reserve,” she says. “They’re fine sitting quietly, working on the computer, hopping on the Internet, watching DVDs. Everything’s fine at rest.” But when they actually have to do something, or when they face an actual cardiovascular stresser — like a car accident, heart attack or pneumonia — then, Bairey-Merz says, they do not have a fitness level that is going to help them do well and survive.” (Source: NPR)
She goes on to say that “fitness matters more than fatness.” I found this whole thing fascinating, especially after my 5K experience. It made me think about some friends of mine who are average weight but don’t exercise at all and friends I have that are above average weight but walk for an hour every single day.
I see it in my own life. There were times through my journey with obesity where I lost 25 pounds without moving a muscle, but I didn’t gain any fitness by losing those 25 pounds. Why? Because I still wasn’t moving my body. I was, as Dr. Bairey-Merz explained, sitting all day long. I was heart disease waiting to happen. Fortunately, when I lost 150 pounds, I was aware that I needed to lose weight AND improve my fitness level. To my surprise I enjoyed the physical exertion of exercise and still do.
I’m interested to see what you think about the concept that fitness is more important than fatness. Agree or disagree? Diane
Photo credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net by ImageryMajestic