Fitness during one's teenage years is said to lower the risk of heart attack later on in life. However, being fit does not help when one remains obese.

In fact, Science Daily reports that it may be better to be unfit and lean than to be fit and obese. Researchers based their conclusion on a study of 743,498 Swedish men who underwent a medical examination at 18 years old. They were followed for approximately 34 years until they suffered a heart attack, died, or until January 1, 2011, whichever came first.

Based on the results, every 15 percent increase in fitness during youth lowered heart attack risk by 18 percent; regular exercise decreased the risk by 35 percent. But despite the level of fitness, researchers found that obesity remains a major factor in increasing the odds of cardiovascular cases.

“While being physically fit at the end of your teens can reduce the risk of heart attack, fitness alone does not appear to fully compensate for the risks with being overweight or obese, “concludes researcher Peter Nordström.

“In other words, having a normal weight is more important than being in good physical shape, but it is even better to be both fit and have a normal weight.”

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(Photo by Fort George G. Meade Public Affairs Office via Flickr Creative Commons)

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