If you want to live a longer, healthier life, you are probably focusing on eating the proper types of food and getting enough exercise.
Have you ever really given any thought to which method is really the best way to improve your heart health? Which deserves more of your attention: diet or exercise?
The answer may surprise you.
According to a recent study conducted by a research team at St. Louis University, it may not matter if you choose to improve your fitness or diet – or both – as long as you lose weight and keep it off.
The study looked at 52 overweight middle-aged women and men. The researchers divided them into three different groups: those who exercised, those who dieted, and those who did both. Everyone was tasked with losing about 7 per cent of their body weight over a period of 12 to 14 weeks.
Researchers advised those in the diet group to eat healthy foods and reduce the amount that they ate each day by about 20 per cent. Those in the exercise group were asked to increase their physical activity levels by the same amount. The individuals in the diet and exercise group were asked to split the difference by lowering food intake by 10 per cent and boosting activity levels by 10 per cent.
Throughout the study, the research team examined how each of those weight loss methods affected different aspects of heart health including overall health, high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and heart rate.
Overall, it was shown that modest weight loss resulting from any method had a strong and positive effect on lowering the risk of heart disease. In fact, researchers found that all three weight loss methods were equally effective. Across the board, losing weight was shown to reduce a person’s risk of heart disease in their lifetime from an average of 46 per cent to 36 per cent.
Does this mean that you should stop working out and just focus on healthy foods if you want to keep your heart healthy? Not necessarily.
Even though all three methods of weight loss helped improve heart health, medical professionals stress that the combination of healthy eating and exercise is still the best route for overall health. Do not go indulging in too much junk food or sitting on the sofa for hours at a time; stay active and eat right!