Study Shows Correlation Between Body Fat and Exercise Capacity

Researchers from Johns Hopkins have established a link between body fat and exercise capacity in patients suffering from type II diabetes. Though the study’s recommendations for such patients are obvious, similar recommendations could easily be applied to non-diabetics.

Unfortunately, the study shows that people with a higher rate of body fat also tend to have less capacity for exercise. The study, published by the PLOS ONE journal in late March 2021, doesn’t specifically state cause-and-effect. It doesn’t discuss the topic of whether or not excess weight causes lower exercise capacity or vice-versa. But the recommendations at the end of the study are clear: diabetics should make an effort to exercise more in order to improve cardiac health.

  • Exercise Capacity Defined

For the purposes of this particular study, exercise capacity is defined as a combination of heart endurance, lung endurance, and general physical fitness. Possessing greater endurance and overall physical fitness allows one to exercise more frequently and for longer periods of time. The opposite is also true.

It would make sense that a higher volume of body fat would decrease someone’s overall physical fitness. How it affects heart and lung function is not quite clear from the study. Nonetheless, the data shows a clear link.

Furthermore, the three criteria featured in the study appear to be more important to exercise capacity then overall body weight, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and other factors. For patients with type II diabetes, body fat and exercise capacity seem inexorably linked.

  • What the Study Found

Researchers analyzed data pertaining to some 1300 U.S. adults with type II diabetes. Each of the participants was assessed for the following:

  • Blood sugar
  • Heart rate and blood pressure
  • Cholesterol levels
  • Weight, muscle mass, and waist circumference.

The average body fat percentage for male participants was 35%. For women, it was 45%. With blood sugar levels at an acceptable range, researchers found that participants with higher rates of body fat showed reduced exercise capacity.

The results are fascinating when you consider all the potential effects of diabetes. It is also fascinating to learn that overall weight has less of an impact than body fat rate. You can weigh more with a toned and lean physique and still enjoy maximum exercise capacity as compared to weighing significantly less but with a higher rate of body fat.

  • Exercise Is the Solution

Medical science has known for quite some time that regular exercise is important for diabetics. Indeed, it is important for all of us. Yet the link between body fat and exercise capacity makes the need for regular exercise even more important.

Simply put, it gets tougher to exercise the more body fat one puts on. Not exercising can encourage extra body fat, especially when coupled with poor nutritional habits. So a person who doesn’t exercise or eat well can inadvertently begin a cycle that never ends.

The people at Salt Lake City’s Mcycle say that spinning class is an especially helpful exercise for individuals trying to reduce body fat. Indoor cycling is high-energy but low impact. When done in a studio environment, indoor cycling combines upper body movements as well, maximizing the benefits of each session.

Exercise really is the key. Even someone with a high body fat rate can begin exercising at a low level. As endurance increases, that person can exercise for longer periods of time and with greater effort. Over time, exercise capacity should increase while body fat rate decreases.

Whether you are diabetic or not, reducing body fat is a good thing. Regular exercise and a proper diet make it possible.