How is it possible to be overweight but still be in shape?

To most of us, being in-shape means being physically fit; this implies good muscle tone, strength and endurance. It is possible to have those attributes while still being overweight. In fact, many elite athletes work, you might even say struggle, on a regular basis to maintain an ideal weight for optimum performance in their sport, e.g., road racing cyclists and gymnasts. If they, just like anyone else, eat more calories than they burn they will gain weight, regardless of being in shape.

“Overweight” is a somewhat relative term and is most accurately reflected in ranges rather than a specific number on the scale. There are several methods of calculating an ideal weight and body fat percentages, including; Body Mass Index, Waist–to-Hip Ratio, and circumference measurements. 

NASM considers BMI (body mass index) to be the most reliable method of determining a healthy weight and can be easily calculated by dividing body weight (in kilograms) by height (in meters squared). A BMI of between 18.5 and 24.9 is thought to be ideal, a range from 25 to 29.9 is considered to be overweight and can begin to lead to weight related health problems, while a BMI over 30 is generally accepted as obese and the cause of an increased risk of many chronic diseases.


Dr. Robin Miller, MD
Internal Medicine
If you are overweight but still exercise regularly, it is still possible to be in shape. In this video, Dr. Robin Miller explains why keeping the body moving is vital even if you are in shape.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.