New studies show that regular exercises on their own do not add up to a longer life, you need to eat healthily as well. And, in a corollary to that, eating healthily without exercising also does not help in prolonging life.
Although there are numerous health benefits to eating a balanced diet or engaging in regular exercise independently, the study points out that to achieve maximum reduction in mortality risk, it is important to combine a healthy diet with regular exercise.
The new study, conducted by researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia and published recently in the British Journal of Sports Medicine show that a healthy diet cannot offset the effects of a sedentary lifestyle, just as regular exercise cannot counter the harms of a poor diet.
The study notes that while exercise and a healthy diet can individually reduce your overall risk of mortality, the largest risk reduction comes from doing both. The study revealed that those who exercised frequently and ate a well-balanced diet had the lowest risk of mortality, and that high levels of physical activity do not counteract the negative health effects of a poor diet. The findings highlight the importance of engaging in both a healthy diet and regular physical activity.
The scientists added that adhering to both, a quality diet and sufficient physical activity, is important for optimally reducing the risk of mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease (CVD), and obesity or overweight related cancers. Though many people may be aware that a healthy diet and regular exercises are beneficial to warding off CVD, not many will be aware that being overweight and having obesity are associated with some cancers.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has associated overweight and obesity with increased risk of 13 types of cancers, including cancers that affect many of the vital tissues and organs such as the central nervous system, the kidney, liver, pancreas, thyroid, ovaries, intestine, blood plasma, and breast cancer among others.
Findings of the study and its relevance are buttressed by the fact that it was extensive and extended over a decade. For their research, the scientists evaluated the health and exercise data of 346, 627 individuals over the course of 11 years.
They tracked how much exercise each participant completed in an average week along with how intense their physical activity was. The team also followed the eating habits of the participants. During the study period, a total of 13,869 participants died, of whom 2,650 succumbed to heart disease and 4,522 due to obesity or overweight-related cancers.
Results from evaluating the diet revealed that while any type of regular exercise was associated with a lower risk of mortality, those who both ate well and exercised had the lowest risk of dying. In addition, the study found that although exercise and diet are independently linked to a lower risk of mortality, high levels of exercise cannot entirely mitigate the harms of a poor diet.
The findings of the study suggest that in order to minimize overall mortality risk, people need to eat a healthy diet as well as exercise regularly.
The study also established that those who ate a poor-quality diet and were engaged in active exercising had substantially reduced mortality risk than those who ate a poorquality diet and were inactive as well. However, to maximize mortality risk, it is important to be doing both things right, said the researchers. The study noted although health professionals always endorse adhering to both healthy diet and regular exercises, fast food and sports equipment vendors have been able to push through advertisements that aim to lure consumers into the wrong idea that ‘by working out you could eat whatever you wanted’, or that ‘exercise outruns a bad diet’.
It has been widely proven that a range of chronic diseases could be prevented or contained by eating healthily and exercising regularly. Numerous studies have ascertained that being physically active can boost your brain health, reduce your risk of disease and strengthen your bones and muscles, and a healthy diet can increase your longevity, boost immunity, and lower your risk of chronic disease.
Diet and exercise are each critical to minimize the chance of death from cardiovascular disease and many cancers, and yet, because diet and exercise are closely interlinked, many people believe they can offset the effects of a poor diet by increasing the amount of exercise they engage in.
Also, while analyzing how physical activity mitigates the risks linked to a poor diet, the researchers noted that findings from previous studies suggests that intense exercise can offset the harms of eating poorly in the short term, but there was minimal data on the long-term effects. The scientists now intend to examine how diet and physical activity interact on longterm health outcomes.
The study concluded that while it is important to do at least one thing right — either exercise regularly or eat well — to lower the risk of mortality, diet and exercise together help lower the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and many forms of cancer.