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Either or Both - Diet or Exercise

If you want to lose weight so your heart is healthier, a study indicates diet, exercise or both work – provided you lose the weight.

Sandor Kovacs and colleagues of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that in a look at the hearts of middle-aged men and women who cut calories or exercised for a year. The study in the American Journal of Physiology: Heart and Circulatory Physiology was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health.

Both groups lost about 12 percent of their weight, and had similar improvements in their hearts’ ability to fill and pump blood. Their hearts became more supple, like younger hearts.

Kovacs’ conclusion:

``If you want your heart to improve, and if you are overweight, you can lose weight either by dieting, or exercising, or doing both.’’

* Weight loss to lower elevated blood pressure in overweight and obese persons with high blood pressure.
* Weight loss to lower elevated levels of total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and triglycerides, and to raise low levels of HDL-cholesterol in overweight and obese persons with dyslipidemia.
* Weight loss to lower elevated blood glucose levels in overweight and obese persons with type 2 diabetes.
* Use the BMI to assess overweight and obesity. Body weight alone can be used to follow weight loss, and to determine the effectiveness of therapy.
* The BMI to classify overweight and obesity and to estimate relative risk of disease compared to normal weight.
* The waist circumference should be used to assess abdominal fat content.
* The initial goal of weight loss therapy should be to reduce body weight by about 10 percent from baseline. With success, and if warranted, further weight loss can be attempted.
* Weight loss should be about 1 to 2 pounds per week for a period of 6 months, with the subsequent strategy based on the amount of weight lost.
* Low calorie diets (LCD) for weight loss in overweight and obese persons. Reducing fat as part of an LCD is a practical way to reduce calories.
* Reducing dietary fat alone without reducing calories is not sufficient for weight loss. However, reducing dietary fat, along with reducing dietary carbohydrates, can help reduce calories.
* A diet that is individually planned to help create a deficit of 500 to 1,000 kcal/day should be an intregal part of any program aimed at achieving a weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week.
* Physical activity should be part of a comprehensive weight loss therapy and weight control program because it: (1) modestly contributes to weight loss in overweight and obese adults, (2) may decrease abdominal fat, (3) increases cardiorespiratory fitness, and (4) may help with maintenance of weight loss.
* Physical activity should be an integral part of weight loss therapy and weight maintenance. Initially, moderate levels of physical activity for 30 to 45 minutes, 3 to 5 days a week, should be encouraged. All adults should set a long-term goal to accumulate at least 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, and preferably all, days of the week.
* The combination of a reduced calorie diet and increased physical activity is recommended since it produces weight loss that may also result in decreases in abdominal fat and increases in cardiorespiratory fitness.
* Behavior therapy is a useful adjunct when incorporated into treatment for weight loss and weight maintenance.
* Weight loss and weight maintenance therapy should employ the combination of LCD's, increased physical activity, and behavior therapy.
* After successful weight loss, the likelihood of weight loss maintenance is enhanced by a program consisting of dietary therapy, physical activity, and behavior therapy which should be continued indefinitely. Drug therapy can also be used. However, drug safety and efficacy beyond 1 year of total treatment have not been established.
* A weight maintenance program should be a priority after the initial 6 months of weight loss therapy.


The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

Copyright Information: Public domain information with acknowledgement given to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

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