We hear so much conflicting information about our health and wellness, it’s a wonder any of us can make lifestyle decisions at all. Foods that boost metabolism, the best fat-busting workouts, foods we should avoid, vitamin supplements we should take; no two sources have the same information. Well, science has just proven that it’s all a little bit easier than we thought.
A study by St. Louis University has found that picking either diet or exercise can have the same health benefits as doing both. The key to improving heart health is actually in the weight loss itself (assuming you’re not at a healthy weight already), not the means by which you lose weight.
In the study, 52 overweight middle-aged men and women were divided into three test groups: a diet group, an exercise group and group who did both. The ‘diets’ were asked to eat healthy and reduce food intake by 20 percent; the ‘exercisers’ were asked to increase their physical activity level by 20 percent; and the ‘boths’ reduced food intake by 10 percent and upped activity by 10 percent. Researchers then measured all groups for overall heart health (focusing on indicators like blood pressure, cholesterol and heart rate).
They expected to find that the group focusing on both diet and exercise would be the healthiest at the end of the trial. The combination of increased metabolism speed from the exercise would combat the ‘starvation-like’ effects of lower food intake resulting in a better equilibrium. This wasn’t quite the case though.
The results show great improvement across all three groups. All the participants lowered their likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease in their lifetimes from 46 to 36 percent.
So basically, weight loss is weight loss and the means to it (while still remaining healthy) are not a huge factor in the benefits of it. Researchers warn though, that we should still be aware of the other health benefits of both diet and exercise. Apparently this is not the go-ahead to eat only junk or make our only exercise the jaunt to the fridge. But we can breathe easy knowing that if we don’t have time for one, focusing on the other can be just as good.