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Study Shows Lack of Physical Fitness is More Important Predictor of Heart Problems - 2004-09-09

People generally know that being overweight negatively affects your heart, but there is a new study that shows that a lack of physical fitness is an even more important predictor of heart problems.

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that even obese people can protect their hearts to some extent if they exercise regularly.

Dr. Timothy Wessel, at the University of Florida Medical School, helped conduct the study.

"There are many currently popular ways to lose weight," Dr. Wessel noted. "However, our study shows that the lack of physical fitness is a stronger risk factor for developing heart disease than being overweight or obese."

Dr. Wessel and his colleagues at the University of Florida, along with researchers at five other institutions, conducted the study. More than 900 women with symptoms of heart problems participated. Even women who had other risk factors such as diabetes or blocked arteries enjoyed more protection against serious heart problems if they were moderately fit.

"So if you want to lose weight to reduce your risk of heart disease, you need to be sure to increase your physical fitness levels and increase your activity, rather than just losing weight alone," Dr. Wessel says.

Doctors still warn that obesity can lead to many health problems, but even the obese can benefit from getting physically fit.