Both Diet and Exercise Are Needed to Safeguard Your Health, Not One or the Other

A woman about to eat a dumbell with veggies

When it comes to healthy lifestyles, everyone realizes that diet and exercise are important. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables while avoiding fatty and processed foods are generally good recommendations. Likewise, each of us should try to get a fair amount of strenuous activity each week as well. But at the same time, many people don’t always have a balanced exercise and diet plan. Instead, they assume investing heavily in one or the other can achieve the same health results. This would theoretically be great if someone hates to exercise. It also might seem ideal for those who enjoy physical activities and want to eat anything they like. Unfortunately, real life doesn’t work that way, and a recent study out of the UK supports this.

Various studies have looked at diet and exercise in isolation. Eating well is linked to not only proper nutrition but longevity also. Similarly, exercise offers many health benefits that range from reduced heart disease risk to improved functional abilities with aging. But both pursuits are essential. Not only does a routine exercise and diet plan help you maintain a mental focus on health, but they also complement one another in many ways. This is why the importance of diet and exercise in combination cannot be stressed enough.

The Latest Research in Health and Longevity

Recently published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers studied a large group of participants for over a decade. In total, nearly 350,000 adults with an average age of 57 years were monitored over 11 years. All of these adults were healthy at the beginning, and they took surveys throughout the study. Some surveys asked about the quality of their diets while others investigated their level of physical activity. At the end of the study, the researchers then evaluated exercise and diet plan behaviors in relation to disease and mortality. In the end, the importance of diet and exercise in combination yielded the best results by far when it came to health.

Over the course of the study, almost 14,000 participants died. Of these, 2,650 suffered cardiovascular disease-related deaths. Over 4,500 were diagnosed with diet and weight related cancers. Comparing these individuals to those who remained healthy allowed the researchers to determine the importance of diet and exercise in terms of overall wellness. As it turns out, the healthiest group with the lowest risk for mortality was those who had a strong exercise and diet plan. Interestingly, while focusing on diet or exercise only did improve risks, it was not enough in deterring cardiovascular and cancer risks. Thus, the researchers concluded that their study strongly supports the need for adults in invest in both for optimal wellbeing.

Why a Healthy Diet is Essential

if you think about it, it is not so surprising that both an exercise and diet plan is essential. When it comes to diet, there are a number of best practices that are known to lead to better health. Naturally, a healthy diet is one that provides adequate nutrition. In order to accomplish this, it is important to eat a variety of health foods that result in balanced nutrition. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins and other micronutrients. But at the same time, many low glycemic vegetables and fruits provide fiber and healthy carbohydrates. Also, balancing lean protein foods like fish and poultry with healthy fats, like omega-3s, is also beneficial. These are basic dietary guidelines that help us enjoy out best level of health.

(Read this Project Bold Life story on how a nutrient deficiency is a hidden threat to good health!)

The other important aspect of diet is to avoid excess in addition to choosing foods wisely. As the saying goes, too much of a good thing can be bad, especially for one’s health. Certainly, it’s okay to enjoy a delicious dessert every now and then. But making sweets and other less-than-ideal foods a regular indulgence can undermine wellness. As the research now shows, even those who exercise all the time can’t escape reality. The importance of diet and exercise in healthy pursuits is clear. Focusing on one is simply not enough when it comes to leading a healthy life.

Some Things Diet Cannot Provide

Ask any professional athlete, and they’ll tell you about the importance of diet and exercises as a combination strategy. Eating well allows peak performance by providing muscles and cells what they need. But for those of us who aren’t trying to compete at the Olympics, having an exercise and diet plan together is also essential. Why? Because diet can only boost our health so far. There are many health benefits that physical activity offers that diet cannot. In fact, physical activity has even been linked to better mental health and creativity. For these reasons, including physical exercise in your health routine is highly encouraged.

When it comes to developing an exercise and diet plan, the types of physical activities you select matter. The best approach is a combination of aerobic and strength exercises along activities that improve your flexibility. Aerobic exercises not only lead to better heart health, but they also improve endurance and tissue oxygen levels. Strength training keeps your bones, ligaments and muscles strong, and it prevents things like osteoporosis. And activities like yoga and Pilates lead to better physical functioning with age. While a healthy diet can help maximize the effects of physical activity in these areas, it alone is insufficient. In the research study, those who clearly believed in the importance of diet and exercise together were the healthiest.

A Holistic Perspective Is the Key

When it comes to overall wellness, a piecemeal approach is always going to be less effective. What we eat, our level of activity, and our spiritual and mental wellbeing are all intimately connected. Therefore, it’s not surprising that both an exercise and diet plan together complement one another. Research now supports the importance of diet and exercise both in our wellness efforts. And future studies will likely show that meditation, mindfulness, and other activities promoting mental and spiritual wellbeing are similarly essential. Thus, embracing a holistic health perspective looks to be the key when striving to be our healthiest.


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Through timely and thoughtful articles, the book Project Bold Life: The Proven Formula to Take on Challenges and Achieve Happiness and Success, and other media, we deliver engaging content that educates, motivates and inspires you to live a Bold Life.
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