In spite of recent media reports suggesting that exercise may not be useful in obesity management, overweight and obese people should not be discouraged from taking it up, according to a paper published today in the Medical Journal of Australia.
Winthrop Professor Daniel Green from UWA's School of Sports Science, Exercise and Health said although treatments such as bariatric (weight loss) surgery were being promoted in some quarters, exercise was still a valuable part of the health equation for overweight and obese people.
"Bariatric surgery has an important and evidence-based role in the treatment of severe obesity. However, lack of attention to prevention, especially exercise, effectively condemns a large proportion of the 20 per cent of Australians who are already obese to disease progression and, ultimately, surgery," Professor Green said.
"Exercise is good for you whether you lose weight or not, because it can help increase muscle mass, improve artery function and decrease the risks of heart attack, stroke and diabetes.
"Recent studies suggest that obese people who develop some level of fitness have a lower cardiovascular disease and death risk than those who are lean but unfit. Exercise is especially good at preventing diabetes in obese people, who are at higher risk of developing this disease."
Professor Green said experts recommended comprehensive weight management programs should be available for obese patients and those with Type 2 diabetes, and that non-surgical options should be attempted first.
Professor Green's research is supported by the National Heart Foundation of Australia, Bendat and Perron Charitable awards.