Do you have to literally drag your heels everyday
for jogging, jumping, kick boxing, lifting weights, brisk walking and doing the
whole nine yards of a fitness regime in an attempt to lose those extra pounds
and keep fit? Are you the one constantly feeling that these exercise routines
simply convert fats, carbohydrates and starches into body aches, pains and
If so, that brings up the next obvious question,
how does one keep one's body and mind happy and fit without exerting too much?
Research shows that now there could be a novel solution
to losing that extra flab - simply live at a higher altitude! That's some food
for thought for you, if you are losing ground in the battle of the bulge.
A new study shows that people who live where the air is
thinnest are less likely to be obese than those in low-lying areas. The study
led by Jameson Voss, from Uniformed Services University in Maryland, shows that
Americans living at higher altitudes were more likely to be slimmer than those
in low-lying areas.
The study which was published in the International
Journal of Obesity,
was conducted on 400,000 people living in the state of
Colorado. Results showed that a person's obesity risk was lowered with every
660 feet increase in elevation.
Voss commented "I was surprised by the magnitude of
the effect...I wasn't expecting such a consistent pattern as what was
Dr. Voss added that the finding of the study explains why
the obesity rates are different between various states in the United States of
America and why Colorado had the lowest obesity rate leading to lower rates of
heart disease and diabetes.
Dr. Voss also cautioned that the results don't mean people
should move to higher altitudes to lose weight, but he said that the work
suggests that elevation could be part of the obesity puzzle.
It is a well known fact that mountain air contains less
oxygen than air at lower altitudes, so breathing it causes the heart to beat
faster and the body to burn more energy. The authors speculate that the thin
air at higher elevations could possibly affect appetite hormones, causing a
decrease in their appetite and increasing the calories which they burnt,
leading to weight loss.
Cynthia Beall, a professor of anthropology at Case Western
Reserve University in Cleveland, was not involved in the above study, but conducted
a research on how the body adapts to high altitudes. She found that it was
common for tourists travelling to high elevation to burn more calories in the
first few weeks of their journey without having to go on a diet. She also said
that it would be interesting to see whether these tourists could maintain their
weight loss after returning back.
The researchers collected information from
several databases, to examine obesity rates at different altitudes, including a
telephone health survey of 422,603 Americans from 2011.
Information was obtained from 236 people who
lived at the highest altitude of at least 9,800 feet above sea level. These
people seemed to smoke less, eat healthier and exercise more.
The researchers also collected information on
322,681 people who lived at a lower altitude - less than 1,600ft above sea
The researchers found adults living in the lowest
altitude range had a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 26.6, whereas people who lived in
the highest altitude range had a BMI of 24.2. BMI, which provides as reliable
indication of body fat, is a measurement of a person's weight in relation to
their height. A healthy BMI range is between 18.5 and 24.9.
Prof Beall commented that it would be interesting to see if
the obesity prevalence of people in Colorado would change if they move to a
lower altitude. She also cautioned that new findings don't prove that higher
altitude prevented people from being obese. Researchers have found that people
living in Colorado's higher altitudes migrated to lower altitudes when they got
sick with chronic diseases.
It is true
that nothing tastes as good as feeling thin feels, but don't pack your bags and head out for the Himalayas or Mount Everest
yet - scientists say the results aren't conclusive enough to prove moving to
higher elevation will automatically shed excess weight. The findings are
preliminary and further research is needed in more number of people.