Summary: Tired of not achieving that ideal body weight? Relax, say researchers. Physical fitness is much more important than one’s Body Mass Index (BMI) in reducing an individual’s risk of premature death.

Recent research published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association from the University of South Carolina should ease the minds of the more than 67% of overweight American adults. Maintaining or improving fitness levels was a more important indicator of preventing premature death regardless of body size.

The study conducted by the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health analyzed the health of 14,345 adult males finding a significant association with lowered risks of premature death among those maintaining or improving fitness levels even after controlling for BMI. The study further found a 19% lowered risk of heart disease and stroke related deaths for every unit of increase fitness (measured as metabolic equivalent of task: MET) and a 15% reduction in death from any cause. Decreases in fitness levels were linked to increases in death risks however BMI change in itself was not associated with increased risk of premature death.

Lead researcher Duck-chui Lee stated the importance of the findings. This is good news for people who are physically active but can't seem to lose weight. You can worry less about your weight as long as you continue to maintain or increase your fitness levels."
“We have been lobbying for a greater emphasis on activity levels as opposed to BMI metrics through our Movement Revolution on Facebook over the past three years,” stated Steve Bordley, CEO of TrekDesk Treadmill Desk. “Simple steps could overturn the health concerns in this country in less than a year if we could educate Americans to take 10,000 steps a day at a minimum and adhere to basic health guidelines for diet and lifestyle.”

What would be the effect of 10,000 steps a day? A reduction in the rate of iniital heart attacks by 90%, stroke by 70% (source: AHA); reduction in rate of Type II diabeites of 50% (source: ADA); reduction in rates of cancers of 30-70% (source: ACS). 10,000 steps a day equates to five miles and is the MINIMUM recommendation for health set by the U.S. Surgeon General however according to a University of Tennessee study Americans average less than 5,000 steps per day.

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