I know that many folks start an exercise regimen to lose weight, only to get discouraged when the pounds don’t start melting away. But don’t give up! Even though your waistline isn’t shrinking, you are still strengthening your heart. The inverse is also true: dropping pounds via diet, even without exercise can help make the heart stronger according to the latest issue of the research newsletter Harvard Health Letter.
According to a study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, whether you are exercising with no weight loss, or losing weight without exercising, the benefits are about the same: your heart functions improve, and your risk for high blood pressure and high cholesterol are decreased by a small amount. Dr. I-Min Lee, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School said the following of the study:
I think the findings are encouraging, because they clearly show that among the individuals who gain weight, if you maintain your fitness, you’re at a lower risk compared to those who gain the same amount of weight but don’t maintain fitness
The study found, though, that the greatest benefits were found in those individuals that exercised regularly and lost weight; they exhibited the biggest benefit with greatly reduced hypertension and cholesterol. Not surprisingly, those folks in the study who didn’t exercise consistently or lose any weight via diet realized no benefits, and were at the greatest risk for high cholesterol or having a heart attack or stroke.
So, if you’ve been exercising with little weight loss or improvement, don’t give up. Consider adjusting your diet, or hiring a trainer to help you figure out the best way to achieve the greatest benefits of exercise, but don’t quit. You are helping your heart, and increasing your chances of living a longer, fuller life even if the scale isn’t being cooperative.