What's better: 'active heavy' or 'idle slim'?

21:53, May 25 2012

A Massey student is looking for some "weekend warriors" to test the theory that it's better to be overweight and active than slim and idle.

Current research suggests people who are overweight but active are fitter than those who are an ideal weight but don't exercise.

Masters student James Stewart is looking for 32 men to take part in the study, and hopes some "weekend warriors" will sign up.

"These might be guys that exercise quite regularly, but just can't lose that last 20kg."

He said athletes were often misrepresented by measures such as the Body Mass Index, because of their high muscle mass.

"For 80 per cent of the population it works fine," he said, but sportsmen such as cricketer Jesse Ryder and All Black Piri Weepu would be in much better shape than their BMI might suggest.

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Ryder would probably be fitter than most of the general population, Mr Stewart said. "But on the field he's probably a bit bigger than the other guys."

Genetics also played a big part in body shape, he said.

Two groups are required for his research – 16 unfit but normal-weight males and 16 fit but obese males.

All will be asked to hit the treadmill to test their fitness. As well as the exercise test, participants will get a full, free analysis of their health history and an exercise assessment and prescription.

Southland