Swedish researchers have published the finding of a study that disputes a long-held belief about obesity and aerobic fitness, calling this belief nothing more than a “myth”.

I think many of us, myself included, believed one can carry extra pounds yet be fit.  For example, despite being significantly overweight, I can run a 10K.  This is the whole ‘fat but fit’ notion.

But, what these researchers are saying is that, even though obese people can increase their fitness levels, their overall health is still negatively impacted as long as they carry those extra pound.  In fact, they are worse off than those of normal weight who don’t exercise.

The study, conducted over nearly three decades, between the years of 1969 and 1996, looked 1.3 million Swedish men.  While the most common deaths were from alcohol and drug abuse, those associated with weight and fitness ran a close second.

In short, they found that, while exercise does indeed help, it cannot overcome the effects of obesity.

Granted, this sample is not a very diverse population of people but, nonetheless, it is food for thought.  With over two-thirds of Americans at least overweight and  a third of Americans categorized as obese, we need to be looking at our ideas of fitness with a more critical eye.