Healthy eating and exercise are good for us, as most people probably know. But there are still plenty of people who go to the gym to “burn” those extra muffins.
The study authors wrote: “The sensational headlines and misleading advertisements for exercise regimens to lure consumers into the idea of exercise to eat what they want have fueled the myth about exercise being superior to a bad diet.”
To be fair, research shows that getting plenty of exercise can prevent you from gaining weight after overeating in the short term. The problem is that overeating regularly affects other aspects of health as well as the fact that maintaining a high volume of exercise is not always possible.
A new study was published in British Journal of Sports Medicine She decided to evaluate the independent and interactive effects of both diet and exercise on all-cause, cardiovascular disease, and cancer mortality. The researchers examined the data of nearly 350,000 participants. Study participants, average age 57, were healthy at the start of the study.
What did a healthy diet look like?
The research team analyzed each participant’s diet based on self-reported questionnaires. They defined high-quality diets in the following way: at least four and a half cups of fruits and vegetables per day, two or more servings of fish per week, less than two servings of processed meat per week and no more than five servings of red meat per week.
“These food groups were selected as markers of overall diet quality because other important nutritional components and/or nutrient groups, such as whole grains and dairy products, were not measured during the baseline assessment,” the authors commented.
Physical activity levels were also assessed based on a questionnaire. Participants were asked how many minutes they spent walking, engaging in moderate physical activity (stationary cycling, light weights), and vigorous physical activity lasting more than 10 minutes at a time.
Active people who eat well have the lowest risk
The researchers found that participants with the highest levels of activity who also ate a high-quality diet reduced the risk of all-cause mortality by 17%, reduced the risk of deaths from cardiovascular disease by 19% and cancers by 27% compared to those without heart disease. and blood vessels. The lowest quality diet and the least amount of exercise. Interestingly, a high-quality diet per se without exercise had no effect on the risk of all-cause mortality or the risk of cardiovascular death.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Ding, summarized the findings: “No matter what your diet is, physical activity matters. Whatever your physical activity, diet matters.”
Focusing only on one thing is not enough
The study showed that no amount of exercise is protective. It also showed that better eating habits reduce the risk of death as well. But trying to improve just one of these will not be as helpful as dealing with both.
Exercise tip: Eat deliberately. Don’t think of food as calories to burn during exercise. Make a slight improvement in what you eat and stick to it in the long term. Extreme diets and quick fixes usually do more harm than good, so avoid them.
Advice for dieters: move. Don’t just rely on your diet for your protection. The study showed that even 10 to 75 minutes of exercise per week showed positive effects. Don’t start too fast or too heavy because you could hurt yourself or get burned. Find fun sports or ways to get moving and make them a regular part of your lifestyle.
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