Fit or Not-Being Fat Is Riskiest for Your Heart

The Physicians Committee

Fit or Not-Being Fat Is Riskiest for Your Heart

March 24, 2006

Excess body fat is more dangerous for your heart than being sedentary. A new study shows overweight women who exercise are at greater risk for heart attack than thin women who never lift a finger. Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston studied 27,158 women participating in the Women’s Health Study, aged 45 years and older, and free of cardiovascular disease at study entry.

High BMI (body mass index is a measure of weight taking height into account) was more strongly associated with biomarkers for cardiovascular risk than was physical activity. Heavier women had an 87 percent increased risk for elevated LDL cholesterol, compared with 14 percent risk among inactive women. C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation in the body, was nearly eight times more likely to be elevated among overweight women than sedentary.

The most favorable inflammatory and lipid levels were found among women with both moderate physical activity and normal weight.

Mora S, Lee I, Buring JE, Ridker PM. Association of physical activity and body mass index with novel and traditional cardiovascular biomarkers in women. JAMA. 2006;295:1412-1419.

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