Which is worse: an overweight person who lives an active lifestyle—-or a fit-looking person who is a total couch potato?
That’s what some researchers sought to find out across 8 European countries. Cracking this code may very well be the first step we can take to establish clearer connections between abdominal obesity, lack of movement, and overall health. So let’s separate the fat from fiction…
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has just published a report that compared 334,161 European (Sweden, Denmark, the UK, Spain, Italy, Germany, France, and Greece) men and women’s:
- Body mass indexes (through height, weight, age)
- Waist circumference
- Physical Activity reports
Other conditions that were taken into consideration throughout the study was potentially hazardous miscellaneous factors such as alcohol or tobacco use, education levels, and gender. The research was conducted over the span of 12 years so that they could pull a natural number of how many of their volunteers would pass away during the study. All an all, there was a total of 4,154,915 person-years that were studied cumulatively.
Participants assessed their physical activity in several categories such as occupational, recreational, and household through several in-person interviews or questionnaire they filled out independently. For example, they would take into account whether a person had a job where they were sedentary (desk work), or labor intensive (plumber, mechanic), or heavy manual task-oriented (construction, bricklayer).
Turns out, individuals who had moderately active average lifestyles had 20%-30% less lower mortality rates than those who were labeled “inactive.” However, essentially the higher the levels of activity normal or overweight participants had, the lower their chances of death while obese (those with BMIs above 30) did not have the same results when being considered “moderately active.”
Physical activity strongly affected the waist circumference in the patients, naturally the more active participants had slimmer figures. Researchers have concluded from the findings that “If all inactive individuals were at least moderately inactive, the number of deaths would theoretically be reduced by 7.5%.” They also have inferred that physical inactivity could possibly be more deadly than obesity itself. According to their studies, the authors have concluded that although a whooping 676,000 European deaths in 2008 can be attributed to inactivity, 337,000 only could be attributed to obesity alone that year.
High waist circumferences and BMIs caused increased chances of mortality among subjects of this study. However, physical inactivity seemed to be more of a nail in the coffin than obesity!
Perhaps the dialogue should be less geared towards just losing weight to be healthy, but instead, getting more active…
How to talk to help PT or OT patients get more active:
- Suggest easy ways to be slightly more active daily (take the stairs vs. the elevator, park further away in the parking lot)
- Recommend free smartphone or tablet apps they can download to measure their levels of activity
- Show patients really basic exercises when they are in the office
- Remind yourself to ask patients about their exercise progress in follow-up visits
Allied Travel Careers is dedicated to not only physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists; but also to the wonderful people of this country. Together, we can work towards creating healthier and longer lives for ourselves and our incredible patients.
For some easy exercise tips you can offer to patients even during winter months, check out Ways to Winterize Your Winter Workout.