The Heart Health Benefits of Being at a Healthy Weight
We all know that carrying excess weight can have serious repercussions on our health. But have you stopped to truly consider the benefits of being at a healthy weight? The potential benefits can be found not only in our physical health, but in our mental health, as well.
Some of these benefits include:
- Reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke. Thousands of Americans die of heart disease each year, according to the American Heart Association. Obesity is one of the primary preventable risk factors for developing heart disease. A sustained weight loss of even 10 or 20 pounds can lower your risk of developing heart disease. Being at a healthy weight, coupled with an exercise program, can help prevent heart disease and stroke by strengthening your heart muscle, lowering your blood pressure, improving your blood flow, and increasing your heart’s working capacity. It can also help raise your HDL (good) cholesterol levels and lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
- Helps to control noninsulin-dependent diabetes. When your overall body fat is reduced, the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes (noninsulin-dependent) can be greatly reduced or eliminated. In many cases this means that patients can either reduce or no longer need to take medications to help control their diabetes.
- Lessens your chances of developing certain forms of cancer. Obesity has come into the spotlight in recent years as a risk factor for several types of cancer. The risk of developing breast cancer among post-menopausal women is 50% higher for women who are obese. Among men who are obese, the risk of colon cancer is 40% higher. Obesity is also considered a risk factor for uterine, cervix, ovary, gallbladder and prostate cancers.
- Relieves stress on your back and joints. Carrying around even a few excess pounds will lead to extra stress on your back and joints, and may result in discomfort and sometimes debilitating pain. Reducing your weight and maintaining a physical fitness routine will not only lighten the burden on your body’s joints, but it will also help strengthen your supporting muscles and tendons, as well.
- Increases your energy level. If you are only ten pounds overweight, you might not consider that to be a great deal of weight. But think of those extra pounds in terms of a 10-pound bag of potatoes strapped to your waist — it suddenly seems pretty heavy, doesn’t it? Carrying around excess weight can make you feel sluggish and tired.
- Enhances your own self-esteem. When people are overweight, they often feel embarrassed or uncomfortable in public settings. They may become timid or reclusive, and in many instances, they become depressed. Losing weight allows a person to take pride not only in their accomplishments, but in their improved appearance, as well.
It is not easy to lose weight, but with all of the potential benefits to be gained from being at a healthy weight, it is important that overweight people strive to reduce their size. If you are one of those people, talk to your doctor or dietician to develop an eating and exercise plan that will work best for you.