Exercising Isn’t Just About Weight Loss, Say Cardiologists. It’s About a Healthy Heart

Exercise is about so much more than weight loss, but in a world where obesity is so strongly associated with poor health, it’s hard not to make shedding pounds the primary goal.

A new editorial from three American cardiologists explains why that is such a big mistake.

Even if no visceral fat is burned, emerging evidence suggests physical activity can still improve the health and fitness of our hearts, thereby prolonging our lives.

When it comes to improving health, the cardiologists – Carl Lavie, Robert Ross, and Ian Neeland – argue that simply increasing the amount of physical activity is more important than focusing on weight loss.

The argument is contentious and will no doubt prompt further debate, but the authors clearly lay out their supporting evidence.

In particular, the cardiologists focus on a study published in the International Journal of Obesity in August that found measures of exercise are a much better predictor of long-term health than a person’s body mass index or body fat content.

Among 116,228 adults, this study found increasing physical activity essentially eliminated most of the risk for all-cause mortality and cardiovascular-related deaths over the next 12 years.

This was true even if an individual’s waist circumference increased during the same period.