Fit but obese? Take care of your heart

London, Jan 10 (IANS): Good news for those who hit the gym or jog daily when young.

Being physically fit in your teenage years reduces the risk of a heart attack later in life, says a new study.

“Men who are fit and obese in their teens run a higher risk of having a heart attack than unfit, lean men,” said a study published in the European Heart Journal.

Researchers from Sweden-based Umeå University analysed data from 743,498 Swedish men who received a medical examination at the age of 18.

The men’s fitness level was measured with a bicycle test in which the resistance was gradually increased until they were too exhausted to continue.

The men were monitored for an average of 34 years until they suffered a heart attack or died or until Jan 1, 2011, whichever came first.

The study showed that being physically fit in your teenage years reduces the risk of a heart attack later in life.

Fit but overweight or obese men also ran a significantly higher risk of suffering a heart attack than unfit, lean men, it added.

“In other words, having a normal weight is more important than being in good physical shape, but it is even better to be both fit and have a normal weight,” said lead author Peter Nordström.

The study noted that with every 15 percent increase in physical fitness, the risk of suffering a heart attack 30 years later is reduced by around 18 percent after factoring in different variables such as socioeconomic background and Body Mass Index (BMI).

The results also indicated that regular fitness training late in your teenage years is consistent with a 35 percent lower risk of a premature heart attack.

“As far as we know, this is the first major study that explores the relationship between physical fitness in teenagers and the risk of heart attack later in life,” added Nordström.


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