Weight loss may be the number-one goal for your clients, and if pounds don’t melt away quickly, some people may get discouraged and quit. New research strengthens the case that your program is still helping them obtain positive health outcomes, which is motivation to keep striving. In other words: Being fit benefits health even among people with severe obesity.

York University researchers in Toronto conducted a study to evaluate the cardiovascular health benefits of fitness for people with mild to severe obesity. “You really have to disconnect the body weight from the importance of fitness,” said study author Jennifer Kuk, PhD. “You can get fit without losing weight and have health benefits.”In the study, 853 patients attended a weight management clinic, and researchers evaluated the patients’ data, including fasting blood measures and maximal treadmill stress test results. Data analysis showed that fitter individuals were much less likely to have high glucose, triglycerides and blood pressure, regardless of weight level, when compared with less fit individuals.

“We know that once you get beyond a BMI of 40, the risk of cardiovascular conditions increases exponentially, so this study shows that having a high fitness level is still beneficial, and it really reinforces the importance of fitness,” said Kuk.

The study is available in BMC Obesity (2017; doi:10.1186/s40608-018-0183-7).