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Obesity Might Hinder Your Endurance

Obesity Might Hinder Your Endurance

Being obese may slow you down at work, particularly if you’re in a manufacturing job or a job where the tasks are repetitive, according to a September 2014 study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.

The study, which was co-authored by professors Lara Cavuoto, Ph.D., and Maury Nussbaum, Ph.D., involved testing the endurance levels of 32 participants.

The Endurance Test Details

Sixteen of the participants were of normal weight, while the remaining 16 were obese. These categories of participants were further broken down into non-obese older and obese older (between the ages of 50 and 65) and non-obese young and obese young (between 18 and 25 years old).

The test environment was designed to mimic a manufacturing setting. Study participants enjoyed periods of rest along with periods of work. The endurance of each participant was measured with three types of tasks:

  • Simulated assembly operation (metal pieces assembled into a pegboard)
  • Shoulder elevation (intermittent shoulder flexing)
  • Hand grip (squeezing an object)

The Endurance Test Results

The researchers found that individuals who were not obese showed a 60 percent longer endurance time than their obese counterparts. Furthermore, increased task-related discomfort, decreased strength, and declined task performance were all associated with obesity.

Being in older subgroup — individuals aged 50 to 65 — revealed neither reduced nor improved task performance based upon weight. In other words, age was independent of slowed performance.

Lisa Cavuoto, one of the study’s authors, pointed out that the findings don’t necessarily show cause and effect with respect to endurance. That is, it is unclear whether obesity itself caused the endurance issues or whether difficulty in performing movements or exercising leads to weight gain. Instead, Cavuoto argues that there is simply a relationship between the two.

Obesity and Endurance

The authors explained that the way muscles work can be affected by obesity. Obesity can reduce blood flow, thereby decreasing the oxygen and energy that help the muscles to move. Obese individuals can experience fatigued muscles sooner than others when their muscles are contracted for a length of time.

Individuals looking to fight obesity-related endurance and fatigue issues should consider weight loss through bariatric surgery as a method to reduce the elevated health risks associated with obesity.


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