Fit or Fat?

What should you set your eyes on?

If you watch much television or read many fitness magazines, you may think that becoming ripped is the goal of anyone who works out. But should that really be the goal of your exercise routine?

Ever wondered how to view the division between fit and fat? You’re not alone.

Understanding Overweight and Obesity

Ideally, every person will weigh the proper weight that allows him or her to function well during the day. Since being underweight or overweight can do significant damage to the body’s organs, bones, and joints, obtaining and maintaining a healthy weight is paramount to overall good health.

However, as very few people in the developed world are underweight, the primary issue people face with regard to their weight is being overweight or even obese. In some parts of the world – the United States of America primarily – the number of people who weigh more than they ought has grown to such numbers that an epidemic has been declared.

When an individual’s body mass index (BMI is a measure of body fat based on a comparison of your height and weight) is 25 or higher, the individual is deemed overweight. A BMI of 30 or higher indicates obesity. Falling into either category greatly increases an individual’s risk for diabetes, heart disease, cancers, and countless other diseases.

What Makes You Fit

Thanks to a recent study published by the American College of Sports Medicine, the view of what it means to be fit may be changing. That’s because the study found that while being thin is nice, it does not mean you’re fit. Rather, being fit requires some effort.

During the study, three groups of overweight individuals were told to do three different things. Group one was told to keep doing what they were doing, group two was put on a diet, and the third group was put on a diet and given an exercise regimen to stick with throughout the duration of the six-month trial.

When the study was complete, the two groups of people that changed their habits lost weight. Researchers expected this, as did the general public. What is surprising many people, though, is that losing weight was found to not be enough to improve a person’s overall fitness.

Only the group that dieted and exercised regularly improved the function of their internal organs and thereby enjoyed increased overall fitness. In other words, both groups who dieted dropped weight (approximately 10 percent of their overall body weight), but exercise was the deciding factor in whether an individual improved his or her blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and cardiovascular fitness.

Making the Difference

As the study showed, exercise makes the difference in being fit, fat, or naturally thin. So what does this mean for you? It means that sticking with your regular exercise routine – no matter how difficult it may be at times – isn’t just a good idea for your good looks. It makes all the difference in your good health and well-being.

But how hard do you have to work out? It depends on your goal. The individuals in the study were put on exercise routines that burned off 500 calories for men and 400 for women each day. However, these were overweight individuals who could safely lose a substantial amount of weight. If you’re already at a healthy weight and want to take your overall fitness to the next level, you may want to burn even more calories. Just remember to do it safely, eat plenty of healthy foods every day, and not overwork any specific muscle group during your routine.

Bigger than BMI

Want to get a handle on how fat or fit you are? You’ll need to work with a health or exercise professional. Because while knowing your body mass index is helpful, it does not give a full picture of your overall health.