In the fitness world, we are constantly bombarded with new ideas and techniques for keeping fit, as well as varying diets that we can all try and perhaps benefit from if we like! However, with this influx of information surely not all of it can be correct. It is often difficult to know which advice to follow and which of the many suggestions and concepts will work best for you. Finding an exercise regime that you enjoy and healthy foods that you are happy to stick to can quickly lead to increased health benefits.

A new concept is currently doing the rounds among fitness experts and it has been labelled ‘the obesity paradox’. This is a fairly controversial idea and one that does not seem to have convinced 100% of people of its authenticity. The basis behind the obesity paradox is that an obese person who is generally quite fit will live a longer life than a skinny person who is in poor health. The very essence of this idea is that regardless of the weight of a person, it is all down to their cardiovascular fitness to determine their life expectancy. To put it simply, if the heart is not healthy than the person will not be healthy either – and a person without a healthy heart can not be expected to live a long life!

This theory is not without scientific evidence and there is research to show that among people with heart disease, it is the people who weigh more who tend to get a more positive outcome. There are, of course, several other contributing factors to reaching a favourable outcome when it comes to heart disease. This research is certainly prompting people to pause for thought when it comes to their preconceptions about weight. Seemingly in support of this data, other studies have suggested that a persons life span solely depends on their level of fitness, regardless of how much they weigh.

Even though the obesity paradox is not fully supported at this time, it is encouraging people to think more about their level of fitness. People who are naturally slim will often forego exercise because they believe that their appearance matches their level of fitness. However this is usually not the case. A naturally slim person will still be generally unfit if they do not exercise or eat a healthy, varied diet. This can be quite a dangerous way to think and lead people to not pay close attention to their general health and wellbeing.

How to Protect Your Heart

Protecting your cardiovascular health is one of the most important things that you can do to maintain your general health. When your heart is not functioning at an optimal level, all sorts of problems can start to occur in the body. These problems can be difficult to notice at first, meaning they continue to develop. When it comes to protecting your heart, your dietary choices play a very important role. A study that involved 42,000 healthy women discovered that those who chose to eat a diet that mainly comprised of vegetables, whole grains, lean meat and low-fat dairy had a 31% less chance of death within the next six years of their life than those who ate an unhealthy diet.

When eating to protect your heart it is important that you do not partake in crash diets. Completely cutting out a particular food group is a bad idea. It is instead advisable to include moderate amounts of each thing that your body requires, such as healthy fats and carbohydrates. Instead of dieting, make a healthy diet your lifestyle instead. You will find that you make slow gains towards your target weight and optimum health that will be long-lasting, as opposed to the yo-yo effects of a crash diet.

Choosing a low sodium diet is a good choice for your heart health. Many people mistakenly believe that sea salt is a low sodium version of regular table salt, but the truth is that this is not the case. If you are eating more than a teaspoon of salt each day then you are consuming too much. This can soon add up to negative consequences for your heart. It is very difficult to know how much salt you are consuming if you eat processed foods because it will almost always be added in.

Regular consumption of alcohol can put you at a heightened risk of heart problems and it is best to limit your intake to just one drink a day. Excessive alcohol consumption can also increase your blood pressure and cause a wide range of other problems.

In order to maintain the best health we can for our minds, bodies and bones, we need to partake in regular exercise and watch what we eat. Our body weight is a good indicator of fitness but it is not the definitive decider! Greater attention must be paid to how the body is functioning so that we can do what is best for our long term health!