Exercise, Not Weight Loss, Helps Increase Longevity

Obese people who exercise and improve their fitness levels lower their risk of premature death and their risk of heart disease to a greater extent than obese people who diet and do not improve their fitness level, according to a recent study.

The study, “Obesity treatment: Weight loss versus increasing fitness and physical activity for reducing health risks,” reviewed the results more than 200 previous studies on dieting, weight loss, exercise, metabolic health and longevity. The analysis of these studies was published in September on iScience.  

People who are obese can lower their risk of dying prematurely by 30 percent or more if they improve their fitness level whether or not they lose weight. Their risk of a premature death can even be lower than normal weight people who are out of shape, according to the study.

Obese people who diet to lose weight decrease their risk of premature death by 16 percent, although some studies showed that weight loss alone did nothing to decrease the risk, perhaps because people who lose weight through dieting often regain that weight, one of the authors of the report told the New York Times.