Myth #10: Being skinny means you are healthy
This is a myth that I deal with a lot. Not necessarily because I have to tell thin people that they’re actually in poor health, but because the firefighters I work with often feel discouraged when their exercise efforts are not resulting in as much weight loss as expected.
So, to them I say this: your weight loss efforts are not in vain – when you’re exercising there are amazing things going on inside your body, adding years to your life, that you cannot see or feel. Exercise, regardless of your weight, makes you more sensitive to insulin, raises your HDL “good” cholesterol and lowers your blood pressure, resulting in a reduced risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Yes, having a healthy weight and body composition is very important for your health, but being skinny is not the end all be all.
In fact, your aerobic capacity may say more about your health than your weight. Take a look at the table below. This was a study including 20,000 men, aged 30 to 83 years, who were followed for 8 years. Results illustrated that for all men, regardless of whether they were lean, normal weight or obese, being aerobically fit significantly reduced the risk of death from cardiovascular disease (CVD). Moreover, an obese but aerobically fit man had a significantly lower risk of early death compared to a lean but unfit man.
It turns out being “skinny fat” is just as bad as being “skinny unfit.”
In the comments below, tell me: does this surprise you? Also, are there any fitness/nutrition myths out there that you have questions about or that get on your nerves? Let me know!
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i agree that slender/skinny body types can be misleading to others, as healthy individuals, that can eat “anything” they want. however, look closer and there are telling signs- sagging or double chin, a flat stomach yes but a waistline bigger than their chest,loose jiggly triceps, fat around the chest area “man boobs”.
also, we can not escape genetics, a close friend who ran as his exercise of choice 4-5 times a week, was on a long run with me. in the middle of our run he asked me if i ever feel a flutter in my heart during or after running-i told him no. he told me that he often does and wondered what it was, i encouraged him to see his dr. later that week we received a call from his wife stating that he had a 5 way bypass! she wanted to thank me for suggesting that he see his dr. they shared with us that both of his parents were obese and died of heart attacks and that his sister was obese and had a heart attack at 52. my friend is 5′ 8″ 148lbs. and has always maxed out the “treadmill test”.
know your history!
Thanks for the reminder about knowing your family history Bob. Genetics does play a role, like it or not!
I just stumbled on your site and have to say I love it. I tried the core exercise and it is awesome! I have always ben skinny (maintained 185 since high school, now 43 years old) and as a result thought I was always fit. During our department physicals this year the Dr. found a slight heart murmur, of which she asked “when did this start” and not having any Dr. find it before, I laughed and said, “I guess it started today!” She recommended following up with my doc, which I did. In turn He suggested changing my diet, cut out fat and lower my carbs. Plus due to my family hx, dad had diabetes, had a 5x bypass 10+ yrs ago, hypertension, and the list goes on to have a heart scan and after about 3 months, get another blood draw. Got the heart scan and shockingly received a ZERO, meaning no plaque build up, I am now down to 175 and feel better than I ever have! Just goes to show, you mazy be skinny, but not necessarily healthy!
Awesome Scott! Thanks for telling your story to support this myth. This also goes to show how important it is for firefighters to get regular screenings like physicals and fitness assessments!