July 13, 2010
‘Lifting weights in the gym may not be your best option’

If you have a problem with excess weight, lifting weights in the gym might not be the best thing to do.{{more}}

In fact, doing so might simply move you from being overweight with fat to being overweight with muscle mass.

Either of these extremes can be detrimental to your heart and health generally.

Assistant Nutritionist at the Ministry of Health and the Environment Joyce Burgin told Searchlight that when someone lifts weights, the body loses water and builds muscle.

Muscle is heavier than fat, she said, adding that dieting is an important element of weight loss.

“If you don’t change your eating habits, all you are doing is putting in the food and turning all the fat into muscle. And you are going to continue to be bigger and you will still have an overweight problem and you will still have the same problems with your heart,” Burgin warned.

She said too much muscle, especially in the upper body, “is going to have an impact on your heart”.

“Your heart is really made to perform/function on as normal a body as possible. And anytime you have abnormalities in your body structure, whether it be muscle mass or fat, it is going to have implications for your heart,” Burgin said.

She suggested that the overweight person pay attention to diet and do aerobic exercises 30 minutes a day for at least three days per week.

These exercises include swimming, jogging, walking, cycling, dancing, and sports such as cricket, football, and netball.

“Because they all use up every organ; all your muscles get into play and so you get a total physical,” Burgin said.

“Very often, when people think of exercise, they feel that they can go to the gym. And then they get confused when they go to the gym because they think that they should lose weight in no time,” she said.

You can determine if you have a healthy weight by calculating your body mass index (BMI).

Your BMI is the number you get when you divide your weight in kilograms (2.2pounds = 1 kilogram) by your height in metres squared.

If your BMI is between 18 and 24.9, you are considered to be within a healthy range.

A figure from 25 to 29 means you are overweight while any number 30 and above means you are obese.

If your BMI is goes up to 40 and above, you are “predisposed for the chronic nutrition-related-diseases which include heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and, to a certain extent, certain types of cancers,” Burgin said.

Burgin further said you should be mindful to enjoy food in smaller quantities and avoid a sedentary lifestyle. Additionally, you should substitute food like rice and flour with vegetables, fruits, and legumes.

You should also avoid alcohol, since, according to the health care professional, high consumption of alcohol “is a recipe for obesity”.

She said the bodies of most Caribbean people develop fat in the midsection, around the stomach and waistline.

“Because, if you sit a lot and you don’t get active, it’s an easier place for the body to make fat cell,” she said, adding that this excess weight also puts pressure on the muscles of the back. (KC)