A new review article published Monday in the journal iScience suggests increasing your physical activity and improving fitness in order to overcome obesity and obesity-related health issues, according to Science Daily.

Co-author Glenn Gaesser said, “We would like people to know that fat can be fit, and that fit and healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes.”

“We realize that in a weight-obsessed culture, it may be challenging for programs that are not focused on weight loss to gain traction,” he added. “We’re not necessarily against weight loss; we just think that it shouldn’t be the primary criterion for judging the success of a lifestyle intervention program.”

Gaesser is a professor of Exercise Physiology in the College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University.

Another co-author Siddhartha Angadi said, “This is especially important when you consider the physiological realities of obesity.”

“Body weight is a highly heritable trait, and weight loss is associated with substantial metabolic alterations that ultimately thwart weight loss maintenance,” added Angadi of the University of Virginia.

Obesity can lead to a number of medical conditions, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, and even cancer.

The authors said you must mainly focus on improving your fitness rather than weight loss, that’s because weight cycling, such as yo-yo dieting, is associated with health issues, including muscle loss, fatty liver disease, and diabetes.

Experts recommend adults to perform 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week.

“But it’s important to note that the benefits of exercise are dose-dependent, with the biggest benefits coming from just moving out of the couch-potato zone to doing at least some moderate-intensity activity,” Gaesser said.

“It’s also important to emphasize that physical activity can be accumulated throughout the day,” he added. “For example, multiple short walks during the day (even as short as two to ten minutes each) are just as beneficial as one long walk for health benefits.”

Gaesser noted, “Science has generally supported the main points proposed in Big Fat Lies, a book on this topic that I first published in 1996.”

However, the researchers cautioned that there were limitations to their research, as it was heavily reliant on epidemiological studies that do not establish cause and effect. They said large trials could help examine the outcomes of using a fitness-focused approach.

Angadi said, “Collectively, however, these epidemiological studies demonstrate strong and consistent associations, and this is why meta-analyses can be useful.” “In the case of physical activity and fitness, the epidemiological evidence is supported by a large body of experimental studies and randomized controlled trials that have established plausible mechanisms for the consistent findings in epidemiological studies.”