A new study has found that people are healthier if they are physically unfit, compared to those who are overweight.
Published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, the research suggests that the health benefits that are achieved by being physically fit are reduced in people who are overweight.
A team from Sweden looked at the aerobic fitness of more than 1.3 million men for around 29 years. They wanted to see how aerobic fitness, which was tested by getting them to cycle until fatigue set in, affected health.
They found that those in the highest fifth of aerobic fitness had a 48 per cent lower risk of death from any cause, compared to the men who were in the lowest fifth.
Interestingly, the researchers also determined that men who were of a normal weight were at a lower risk of death, compared to those who were obese, regardless of how fit they were. During the examination, the team found that the benefits of high aerobic fitness were reduced for those who were significantly obese.
In addition, it found that those who were extremely obese experienced no significant effect from aerobic exercise at all.
However, the relative benefits of high fitness levels may be greater in people who are significantly overweight, the study warns.
Co-author Peter Nordström and his team could not explain this finding, saying: "We could only speculate, but genetic factors could have influenced these associations given that aerobic fitness is under strong genetic control."
However, the researchers say there could still be significant benefits of exercise for those who are obese. There were a number of limitations with the study, including the fact that it only included men.
A number of studies have found that losing weight when you are obese can have a variety of significant health benefits.
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