When it comes to being fit, people relate it to losing or maintaining weight. In fact ‘weight loss’ is one of the most searched on Google. People have linked fitness to weight loss and being thin. But the reality is far from this. Truly speaking fitness and weight management should never be linked. The weight of an individual depends on several controllable and uncontrollable factors. A few of the uncontrollable factors are genes, ergonomics, geographic locations, underlying ailment, and much more. Thus researches have proved that relating advice on weight loss with fitness is wrong. Therefore instead of nudging people to lose weight, promoting fitness and making changes in lifestyle is more essential.
Fitness vs Weight loss
Various studies have been conducted to see the effect of weight loss viz-a-viz fitness over mortality risk. The results clearly found that mortality risk is less in the case of a fitter person irrespective of weight. Thus this wrong perception of people about losing weight and breaking free from weight loss programs not only adds many years to life but also increases the quality of life in older years.
Following a diet program or a training schedule that cannot be sustained for a long time results in repeated gaining and losing weight. This has adverse outcomes. The effects of such a weight cycle are worse for cardiovascular health. Unfortunately, the adverse effect is worse than being overweight or obese. One should have a weight-neutral approach focusing on health factors rather than weight management. Increasing cardiovascular health, boosting metabolism, increasing strength, gaining lean body mass, and improving organ system functioning should be the true aims of any fitness program.
Can a fitness program help in weight management?
One must try and eliminate weight loss from the equation of improving health. As proved by several studies, if one remains physically active and maintains a healthy lifestyle, the weight will automatically come to a set point where body functioning is most efficient. If one further wants to increase fitness levels, the only way adopted should be to increase physical activity especially cardiovascular as we grow old. For a few, it may be a little frustrating to separate weight loss from health goals. However, one must keep the focus on health gains and give time to your body to reset things. Remember resetting the setpoint is a slow process and requires consistency in the activity and diet. That is the reason one must make changes in both which can be sustained in day-to-day life.
Health improving factors
When we choose a fitness program and make it part of our daily life, we start to improve in many areas. The benefit of exercise is also dependent on the amount of activity. Higher the activity level, the greater the health benefits. Surprisingly certain parameters show improvement faster than we can imagine. Few immediate benefits are in the area of blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, rest metabolic rate, etc. Our heart becomes more efficient and muscles are able to consume oxygen more efficiently. People with higher fitness goals can move the activity from moderate to vigorous intensity leading to improvement in VO2Max, lactate threshold, lower rest heart rate, power delivery ratio, heart rate variability threshold, and much more.
What is good?
It is important to shift away from weight cycling but aim to build overall fitness. By adding activities such as walking, running, cycling into an existing routine and shifting focus from weight loss to fitness gains can completely change the outlook on one’s life. It can help us live longer and have an excellent quality of life till the very end. Diet is definitely important but one must make changes that are sustainable and can be adapted to become part of life. Crash programs are more dangerous and if done with increased activity can have catastrophic results.