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Better Fit Than Thin

Older people should weigh in on the side of caution, not slimness

Physicians at Yale University School of Medicine have good news for anyone who's getting older and a little heavier: Being a bit overweight is OK for people 65 and older. Indeed, the weight goals for the elderly should be relaxed. Putting some of them on diets might actually do harm, the physicians warn.

The recommendations, which were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, do not endorse excessive weight. Although being a little pudgy is fine, obesity and near obesity will still shorten a person's lifespan, the Deseret News reports. Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. Anyone with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight, but the Yale researchers say that a BMI of 25 to 27 doesn't increase the risk of dying prematurely. Sympatico provides a BMI calculator that works using avoirdupois or metric units.

There's also good news for overweight people who find that no amount of dieting and exercise can make them thin. Steve Blair, a fitness researcher at the Cooper Institute for Aerobic Research in Dallas, says that people shouldn't exercise to be thin. Having studied 75,000 people for more than a quarter-century, Blair reports that overweight people who are fit live longer than unfit thin people.

Blair even takes his own advice. "I've been running every day for 25 years, and I'm still a fat bald guy," he says. "I accept that and focus on being fit."

A feature from the Irish Times explains how fitness doesn't need to make you skinny and it doesn't have to be grueling, either. Thirty minutes of moderate exercise, like a brisk walk or gardening, can be split into 10-minute increments throughout the day.

In fact, if you're not in shape, engaging in occasional but strenuous exercise can be harmful. In his column in The Times of London, Dr. Thomas Stuttaford recommends that sedentary office workers who do all their exercising once a week "would be far wiser, and likely to live longer, if they opted instead to sit down and relax with a glass of red wine in front of the television."

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