fitness workplace wellness

Study Highlights Key Workplace Wellness Component: Fitness

As part of the effort to improve employee heath and help manage company health costs, two key focus areas for well-run workplace wellness programs are obesity and fitness.

After all, as noted via the American Heart Association and American Heart Month, the heart disease stats are staggering: “2,300 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day, an average of 1 death every 38 seconds.”

And while many workplace wellness programs — and individuals — pay close attention to diet and weight (which they should), a new study reminds that increasing activity must also remain top of mind and action.

MedPage Today reports that “Regardless of weight, inactivity may be a precursor to metabolic syndrome, according to a new study.”

The post notes that “Independent of body mass index (BMI), greater cardiorespiratory fitness in men was linked to a smaller waist circumference and less inflammation.”

The study titled “Low fitness is associated with abdominal adiposity and low-grade inflammation independent of BMI” outlines its objective: “Up to 30% of obese individuals are metabolically healthy. Metabolically healthy obese (MHO) individuals are characterized by having low abdominal adiposity, low inflammation level and low risk of developing metabolic comorbidity. In this study, we hypothesize that cardiorespiratory fitness (fitness) is a determinant factor for the MHO individuals and aim to investigate the associations between fitness, abdominal adiposity and low-grade inflammation within different BMI categories.”

Fitness Matters

As the authors state:

  • “In both men and women, higher levels of fitness were associated with lower waist circumference, independent of BMI.”
  • “Higher waist circumference was continuously associated with higher hsCRP (C-reactive protein), independent of BMI in both men and women.”
  • “Higher levels of fitness were associated with lower hsCRP, independent of BMI in both men and women.”

The authors also note the uniqueness of their study: “To our knowledge, no prior epidemiological study has investigated the BMI-independent association between fitness and abdominal fat, and related this to level of low-grade inflammation… When looking at the association between fitness and level of low-grade inflammation, the findings of this present study is consistent with, and even more prominent than findings in previous studies.”

The message reinforces a key area for well-run workplace wellness programs: In addition to diet, combatting inactivity matters.