Some doctors say people who are overweight (body-mass index, or BMI, of 25 to 29.9) or obese (BMI above 30) will face health issues, regardless of how often – or fast – they run.
But some studies show that heavy people who exercise can be cardiovascularly healthy and may live longer than their sedentary but skinny peers.
We asked two experts to, ahem, weigh in.
Dr Glenn Gaesser, director of the Healthy Lifestyles Research Centre at Arizona State University, says yes, you can be fit and fat.
Dr Amy Weinstein, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School who studies the impact of obesity and exercise on disease, disagrees. Here’s why.
Pro: Virtually every weight-related health problem can be greatly improved or cured with a moderate level of exercise, even if you’re overweight. The amount of exercise necessary to achieve a fitness level that greatly reduces disease and mortality risk is the equivalent of brisk walking for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, or running 20 to 30 minutes a day, three days a week.
Con: Based on research I’ve seen and studies I’ve performed, it appears that physical activity cannot completely reverse the ill effects of carrying excess weight on diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The reason for this is unclear. There may be hormones and proteins that regulate weight and affect chronic diseases, which physical activity cannot reverse.
Is it possible to be overweight and healthy?
But can a butterball really outrun a lean machine?
Do heavy runners get injured at the same rate as thin runners?
Should runners disregard age-related weight gain?
Is consuming fewer kilojoules the best way to lose weight?
Do the benefits of exercise matter more than losing weight?
So is it more important to exercise than to lose weight?