While being fat and fit may sound like an obvious contradiction — a new study published this month in the European Heart Journal, reveals that it is possible to be both obese and healthy.

“It is well known that obesity is linked to a large number of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular problems and cancer,” lead study author Dr. Francisco Ortega said in a statement.

“However, there appears to be a sub-set of obese people who seem to be protected from obesity-related metabolic complications.”

The study, which collected data on more than 43,000 people between 1979 and 2003 — challenges the idea that obesity automatically leads to ill-health. In fact, it shows that some fat people manage to remain ‘metabolically healthy’ although their body mass index would suggest they are not. Researchers discovered that 38% of obese participants that were metabolically healthy had a lower risk of dying than their peers who were metabolically unhealthy.

“We believe that getting more exercise broadly and positively influences major body systems and organs and consequently contributes to make someone metabolically healthier, including obese people.” Dr. Ortega added.

Still, Ortega made one thing very clear in a statement to CNN; “Exercise benefits everyone, regardless of fitness and fatness level. So exercise should be encouraged by doctors to all the patients.”

Read the entire CNN post