A new just published found that fit and fat trumps lean and inactive when it comes to living longer. The study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found that fit men who maintained or even put on weight were less likely to die from any cause as long as they stayed active.
This proved to be especially true when compared to men who were thin, but who's fitness level declined over the years.
"Many people worry about their weight and weight but based on our study, weight change is less important than fitness changes," said researcher Duck-chul Lee, PhD, an exercise physiologist at the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health in Columbia.
According to CNN.com, the study, "included more than 14,000 men who underwent at least two treadmill-based fitness tests several years apart, and were subsequently tracked for an average of 11 years.
During the follow-up period, the men were up to 39% less likely to die from any cause, including heart disease, if they'd maintained or improved their cardiovascular fitness between the two treadmill tests. And this was true regardless of whether the men gained or lost weight between tests.
On the other hand, men whose fitness levels declined were more likely to die during the study—even if they'd lost weight or stayed the same between the two tests."
"People need to focus more on maintaining or increasing fitness rather than spending so much energy only on weight loss," he added. "We're not saying that weight is not important."
And just in case you are wondering, the study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and by an unrestricted grant from the Coca-Cola Company.