We have all heard the lecture that we should be more active, and to get more exercise. But did you know that exercise does more than help you lose weight? According to recent research, it can also help to protect against cancer, stroke, heart attack and obesity, even if you are overweight. Let’s see how it works.


More than 10,000 participants took part in a medical study that linked people with poor fitness to having a higher amount of inflammation in their bodies, as well as a bigger waistline. Many life-threatening illnesses and diseases are linked to inflammation. These include cancer and dementia. Excess fat around the waist is linked to other killer diseases like heart failure and type 2 diabetes.

This study did not focus on the current health risk the participants were exposed to, but how they could reduce these risks. It was found that even if people were struggling to lose weight, they could still benefit from regular exercise. Getting active helped lessen the amount of fat in the abdominal area and also reduced low level inflammation.

There are some pretty shocking statistics for obesity around the world. So any chance to reduce the risk of these deadly diseases should be taken seriously.

How Did They Find It Out?

This study was the first of its kind and was conducted in Denmark by scientists from the University of Copenhagen in 2007-2008. They measured the fitness levels, waistlines and inflammation markers of a whopping 10,976 male and female participants.

After taking into account, age, health, and smoking habits, the scientists closely studied each participant’s BMI (Body Mass Index). The findings were interesting. Regardless of a person’s BMI, waist circumference and higher inflammation markers were found in those with lower fitness levels. The study proved that regardless of your weight, you will still have a lower amount of abdominal fat and inflammation with a higher level of fitness.

Can You Be Overweight and Fit?

The study shone a light on this interesting question. Do you have to be slim to be fit? The answer was a resounding no. It is not just the amount of excess weight that is killing obese people, it is the inactivity. In fact, the inactivity is twice as likely to kill you as the extra pounds.

Even as little as 20 minutes of brisk walking could help to reduce the risk of major diseases. So instead of focusing on the BMI as an indicator of health, waist circumference and inflammation should be taken into account. Controversial to previous information, an overweight person can actually be fitter than a slender person. It all depends on their level of activity.

So, the learnings from this study indicate that you should try and get moving regardless of your size. Inactivity is dangerous to your health, so let’s get out there and get active!