Lose weight and lower your COPD risk
The bigger you get, the harder it is to breathe. If you've let yourself go a little, you might already know what I'm talking about.
Sometimes, you get winded just trying to get out of your chair.
But the damage of that extra weight can go beyond running out of breath a little faster than normal. It could lead to real and permanent damage to your lungs -- damage in some ways similar to what smoking can do.
It's a condition called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, and it's especially common among smokers.
But new research finds that after tobacco, excess fat around the middle just might be the biggest risk factor for this life-wrecking condition.
Men with a waistline of 46.4 inches or more and women with a waistline of 43.3 inches or more are 72 percent more likely to get COPD than people who keep to a healthy weight, according to the study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
It's not just obesity, by the way. Being underweight can also increase your risk of the disease by about 56 percent, according to the 10-year study of more than 113,000 men and women between the ages of 50 and 70.
But being underweight is pretty rare. In most cases, it's because of a health problem -- and that health problem might be the reason for the increase in COPD risk.
The clear answer, of course, is to keep your weight right where it should be. And the best way to do that is with a common-sense diet low in processed foods and rich in all-natural whole foods.
While you're at it, be sure to get regular exercise. Give your lungs a workout, and they're bound to get stronger -- which is why the study also finds that people who are active five times a week or more have a 29 percent lower risk of COPD.
Even overweight people who exercise have a lower risk of COPD, according the study. But believe me, if you exercise regularly, you won't be overweight for long.