We always hear about the importance of diet and exercise for a strong heart, but which one is better? Well, a new study suggests that either one of the two, or a combination of both, can work wonders for improving heart health for middle-aged adults. The researchers did stress, though, that exercise and diet combined was the best strategy.
The researchers designed three study interventions for participants to lose seven percent of their body weight over a three-month period. The participants were able to choose whichever strategy they preferred.
The results demonstrated that preference for a particular strategy did not matter really, as all participants saw reduction in their weight along with a lowered risk of heart disease.
Lead author Edward Weiss said, “Exercise and a low-calorie healthy diet are both known to improve risk factors for cardiovascular disease, even in the absence of weight loss. In light of this, we expected the combination of diet and exercise to have ‘additive effects’ on risk factors, and therefore expected greater improvements in the combined-intervention group, as compared to diet or exercise alone.”
The dieting group was told to cut 20 percent of their calories (equivalent to two sodas), while the exercise group had to increase their exercise levels by 20 percent. The combination group was instructed to improve both by 10 percent. All three groups saw equal benefits with regards to blood pressure, cholesterol levels, heart rate, and reduction in heart disease risk. The researchers did note that combining proper diet and exercise is the most successful strategy, though.
Diet and exercise combined may offer other health benefits as well such as a reduced risk of diabetes.
The key to success is finding a proper diet and exercise program that best suits you. If kale smoothies aren’t your thing, try carrot sticks. If running on a treadmill seems like torture, take up a dance class instead. The best approach is having fun and doing what you love while getting fit.