The best exercise for your heart is pushing yourself away from the table, a new study suggests.
Losing weight by itself works better than aerobic exercise by itself in reducing the risk of heart disease, a study of fat men found.
“We feel that exercise is beneficial, but particularly if you’re overweight, you need to exercise in conjunction with weight loss,” said the lead researcher, Dr. Leslie I. Katzel of the Univer sity of Maryland School of Medicine and his colleagues studied 111 men, ages 46 to 80, who were sedentary and obese - that is, 20 percent to 60 percent overweight - but were otherwise healthy.
The men were divided into groups: One pursued weight loss without exercise; the second exercised without trying to lose weight; and the third neither exercised nor dieted.
After nine months, the weight-loss group had dropped an average of 20 pounds, while members of the exercise group had improved their fitness by 16 percent, measured by how much oxygen their bodies consumed.
Researchers were surprised to find that weight loss clearly produced more benefits than exercise alone:
Levels of “good” cholesterol improved 13 percent in the weight-loss group compared with virtually no change in the exercise group.
Blood pressure dropped 8 percent in the weight-loss group compared with a 2 percent to 3 percent drop among exercisers.
Blood sugar, a yardstick for diabetes, dropped 9 percent among the weight-loss group compared with no change among exercisers.