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Diet or Exercise -- or Both?

By Len Canter
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Jan. 21, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- There's no doubt that an unhealthy diet and couch potato lifestyle put your health at risk, but when considering improvements, should you change one at a time or both at once?

Northwestern University researchers found that it's not only doable, but also more effective, to change unhealthy behaviors simultaneously. Different groups of study participants were given a pair of changes to make. One involved diet -- either lowering saturated fat or increasing fruit and vegetables. The other involved activity -- either increasing exercise or reducing screen time.

All participants received remote coaching to help them with motivation, but those assigned to eat more produce and spend less time with their gadgets were most successful at making healthy changes stick.

The researchers followed up with another study that looked at making all the changes simultaneously -- increasing produce while reducing saturated fat, and exercising more while decreasing screen time. They added a smartphone component along with the coaching and found that participants who stuck with the program were able to reach all goals over the nine-month study.

A separate study at Stanford University found that participants who boosted exercise and diet together improved in both areas. They also reached the goals of completing 150 minutes a week of physical activity, getting the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables each day, and limiting saturated fat to 10 percent of daily calories.

Those who first focused on improving diet only had a harder time establishing a consistent routine and meeting fitness goals when they did start working out. Those who started with exercise and changed their diet later ultimately met key goals, but weren't as successful as people who did both from the beginning.

The bottom line? As you streamline calories, be sure to put exercise on the menu as well.

More information

You can read all the details of the most recent Northwestern study called Make Better Choices 2 for ideas on how to try it yourself.

Copyright © 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved. URL:http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=741198

Resources from HONselect: HONselect is the HON's medical search engine. It retrieves scientific articles, images, conferences and web sites on the selected subject.
Diet
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The list of medical terms above are retrieved automatically from the article.

Disclaimer: The text presented on this page is not a substitute for professional medical advice. It is for your information only and may not represent your true individual medical situation. Do not hesitate to consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting a qualified healthcare professional.
Be advised that HealthDay articles are derived from various sources and may not reflect your own country regulations. The Health On the Net Foundation does not endorse opinions, products, or services that may appear in HealthDay articles.


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