Yes, Indeed — You Can Be Fit And Fat

Conflicting information abounds in the medical community.

Some say you enjoy being in the sun for vitamin benefits -- others that you should only do so hidden under a kaftan and big-brimmed hat while slathered in SPF 75? For years, women used hormone replacement  derived from horse urine to fight back menopause symptoms. That treatment has been discarded as it produced an unfortunate side effect: heart attacks. Many Baby Boomers walk the earth sans their tonsils because the surgery was the cure-all back in the day. Trends affect medicine as much as any other profession.

The current health debate involves your waistline. How fat is too fat? And, is it possible to be too active and too thin? Recently, two sets of research have came out illustrating the confusion. First, there is a notion that running can be hard on the joints, cause disability and shorten lifespan. Turns out that running is, in fact, healthy and can prolong life. In U.S. News, Amanda Gardner reported

 Many experts believed that vigorous exercise would actually harm older individuals. And running, in particular, would result in an epidemic of joint and bone injuries. But a new study shows otherwise:

Two hundred and eighty-four runners and 156 healthy "controls," or non-runners, in California completed annual questionnaires over a 21-year period. The participants were 50 years old or over at the beginning of the study and ran an average of about four hours a week. By the end of the study period, the participants were in their 70s or 80s or older and ran about 76 minutes a week.

At 19 years, just 15 percent of the runners had died, compared with 34 percent of the non-runners.

Also, said Fries, who is almost 70, runs 20 miles a week and plays tennis, "Running delayed the onset of disability by an average of 16 years, and that is largely a conservative number, because the control group was pretty darn healthy."

So, if you're an obsessive runner, it's healthy. Today. The study is relatively small, but looks solid. As of this writing, running, a lot, will compress your disability -- that is, you'll show signs of aging later than if you never ran.

And on the very same day, this research was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine:

Among US adults, there is a high prevalence of clustering of cardiometabolic abnormalities among normal-weight individuals and a high prevalence of overweight and obese individuals who are metabolically healthy. Further study into the physiologic mechanisms underlying these different phenotypes and their impact on health is needed.

There's lots of doctor speak in the article, but here's the bottom line: There are fat people who are healthy and there are skinny people who are not.