The benefits of keeping a healthy weight (beyond the scales)
The benefits of maintaining a healthy body weight besides how you look.
There are a lot more benefits to keeping your weight in the healthy range than merely looking good – it’s also an essential component of your physical and mental health. Accredited Practising Dietitian at Lite n’ Easy, Ashleigh Jones discusses why.
Hitting the beach in a new swimsuit or being able to wear that favourite pair of jeans that haven’t fit for years – these are pretty strong motivators for losing weight. But maintaining a healthy weight is much more than just appearances. Here’s why.
Benefit #1 – improved heart health
Once you enter the overweight range on the BMI scale, you will be at higher risk of a whole host of serious medical conditions and lifestyle diseases, in particular cardiovascular disease. If you’re in an unhealthy weight range, losing weight can help to reduce blood pressure and improve your cholesterol levels, which can reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke.
Benefit #2 – relieve aches and pains
When someone is carrying extra weight, it can put added pressure on joints, bones and muscles, which can make it very uncomfortable, or even painful, to be active. This means people are not only missing out on the fun and social aspects of living an active lifestyle, but also the physical and mental health benefits. Maintaining a healthy weight places less stress on joints and bones and can relieve some of these aches and pains. This is particularly true for people with osteoarthritis, who find that their symptoms tend to improve when they’re not carrying extra kilos.
Benefit #3 – improved mood and energy levels
Those who maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly are reported to be happier than those that are overweight. And studies show that making the kind of dietary changes that usually lead to weight loss – such as eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains – can have a significant impact on your mental well being.
Benefit #4 – sleep well
Even a few extra kilos can cause an increase in sleeplessness. Research has shown that losing weight (especially abdominal fat) can improve quality of sleep, as it can impact breathing and lung function. This is particularly important for those with sleep apnoea, as losing weight can help improve symptoms.
This brings a double whammy of health benefits, as managing your sleep apnoea also helps reduce your risk of some serious cardiovascular issues.
Benefit #5 – improved fertility
If you are struggling to conceive, and are carrying some extra kilos, losing weight might improve your chances. In women, weight impacts periods and ovulation, and for men, it can affect sperm quality and lower fertility. Regardless of whether you’re intending on having children or not, a healthy weight range will make a difference to your overall health.
Benefit #6 – longer life expectancy
Being overweight can have a serious impact on your life span. Research shows that life expectancy for people in the obese weight range can be 5 -7 years less than those who are in a healthy weight range.
Benefit #7 – fewer sick days
Consuming a diet that is high in saturated fat and added sugar, while also being low in fibre, vitamins and minerals, can impact your body’s ability to fight infection. Eating a healthy diet and keeping a healthy weight can not only help you feel great but also keep the doctor away, as you’re more likely to ward off the sickness that can cost you valuable time and money at work.
Ashleigh Jones is an Accredited Practising Dietitian with extensive dietetics experience working across hospitals, corporate health, private practice and the food industry. A published researcher, she has collaborated actively across several disciplines including genetics, multiple sclerosis and sports nutrition. Ashleigh specialises in endocrine disorders with particular interest in weight management, pituitary and thyroid disorders, and management of diabetes. Ashleigh is passionate about promoting healthy habits, especially for busy people and offers simple and sustainable nutrition solutions.