‘Fat But Fit’ May Be A Myth

One of the most controversial ideas in medical science today is whether people can really be fat and fit. That is, is weight in itself a marker of health — or simply a suggestion of a person’s physical fitness?

Source: ‘Fat but fit’ may be a myth, researchers say

You’re probably wondering: Obviously it isn’t bad to work out, but is exercising while people are overweight an issue until there is fat loss? Is it not beneficial at first?

A lot of studies have indeed concluded that exercise is beneficial in terms of the later risk of disease. Physical activity have various positive effects on the body and it is most likely beneficial for individuals no matter their body fat percentage. However, analyzing fitness (as we have done) does not account for exercise that does not alter fitness level. Lastly, it is important to highlight the limitations of this study; it is merely an attempt to show an association, and the researchers did not intend to demonstrate causality. Further research is needed!

How Much Does Genetics Really Affect Your Fitness?

If you’re not seeing results in the gym, there are a lot of things you can tweak: your diet, your exercise schedule, and the types of workouts you do, to name a few. But genetics is also a big factor. We’ve all had that thought on bad days: Maybe I’m just not cut out to succeed at this.

Source: How Much Does Genetics Really Affect Your Fitness?

Height is considered ~80% heritable, but malnourishment and/or disease can stunt your growth.  If you’re really serious about addressing your height, limb-lengthening operations (cosmetic surgery) are a reality.  But tot only are they ridiculously expensive, but they also involve having your legs broken!  To lengthen limbs, the bones are broken to be spread so the body fills the gap by healing.   Anti-inflammatory painkillers can’t be prescribed because they might inhibit bone growth.   At a rate something like a millimeter a day, the apparatus is tweaked daily.  Some have achieved 6 inches, but most seem to be 2-3 inches.  Surgery would require someone like me to be off blood thinners, so far less likely that anyone will want to do the surgery for you.

All that said, for me part of the process has been about accepting what I can not change.

Bigger People Sweat More, Even If They Aren’t Fat

Some people sweat more than others. Go for a run with a group of people on a warm day, and the differences become obvious. But what determines these variations?  Answers have traditionally focused on factors like body fat percentage (more fat insulates you and makes you overheat sooner) and aerobic fitness (the fitter you are the less you sweat).

Source: What Determines How Much You Sweat?

28 people is not enough to draw a conclusion from, but the article basically dismisses anything we’ve considered to be truisms to date about fat people sweating more.  But it’s been a well-known fact of ecology for ages now that animals tend to be larger (and have smaller ears, tails, etc) in higher latitudes whereas the closer you get to the equator, the smaller creatures get (Bergmann’s rule).  I certainly sweat a lot more when the temperature was higher.

Max Heart Rate Math: You’re Doing It Wrong

…The question of how to find maximum heart rates is not just of academic interest, medical experts say. The formula for calculating the maximum rate has become a standard in cardiology and in fitness programs, and an entire industry has grown up around it, with monitors sold to individuals and built into exercise equipment.

…Heart rate is an indicator of heart disease, said Dr. Michael Lauer, a cardiologist and the director of clinical research in cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. But, he added, it is not the maximum that matters: it is how quickly the heart rate falls when exercise is stopped.

Source: ‘Maximum’ Heart Rate Theory Is Challenged

The suggested formulas for theoretical maximum heart rate:

  • For people 30+: 208 – (age * 0.7)
  • For women, 35+: 206 – (age * 0.88)
  • For older, healthy adults & women: 211 – (age * 0.64)

Even if you pick the best formula for you (as it can be unclear), the number you get will have a pretty big margin of error (10-20 beats off).   Disclaimer: if you have a health condition where all-out exercise might be dangerous (or if you’re not sure), get a doctor’s OK before trying.  But when in doubt – exercise really hard, and see how high the meter goes.

Your max heart rate for running may be different from your max heart rate for other sports, like cycling and, most notoriously, swimming. Your heart has to work harder to pump blood around when you’re upright versus horizontal. If you determine your max heart rate with a running test and use that to guide pool workouts – you’ll be chasing numbers you probably can’t actually achieve in the pool/etc.

FYI: If you know your max is very different from the formula, that would be important information to give your doctor if you ever need to take a stress test, since they base the test’s stopping criteria on a percentage of what they believe is your max heart rate.