Shape Up Your body!

Published in Wellness Tag: David Ross, MD,MBA  

Can you get in better shape without changing your shape?

The answer is “yes.” Most often my patient’s true desire when beginning an exercise program is to change their shape. They want to lose weight, drop a few sizes, look better and feel more confident. Sometimes after working on their exercise program for six months or more they will return to my office upset that the scale has not moved as much as they desire.

I will then ask them questions such as the following:

  • “Do you notice you are more easily able to carry your grandchild up the stairs of your home?”  or
  • “When you play racquetball with your buddies, have you noticed additional endurance?

The answer to questions such as the above is usually an emphatic “yes”. I then tell them that although their goal was a change in shape it is clear that have gotten into better shape and they will reap some rewards. The obvious reward is the increased ability to enjoy an active life. The not so obvious reward is the reduced risk of many future health problems.

A recent study followed 14,000 participants over eleven years on a fitness program, using a maximal treadmill exercise test to assess fitness over 11 years of follow-up. Researchers found that with every unit of improvement in exercise tolerance, the risk of heart disease and stroke-related death was decreased by 19%. There was also a 15% reduction per unit in death from any cause. Interestingly enough, changes in body mass index (BMI) and body fat percentage were not associated with the risk of death.

The bottom line: in terms of health-related risk, it is more important to “get into shape” than to worry about “changing your shape”. See you at the gym!