Diet vs. Exercise: Which Is Better?

Study finds that doing both at the same time is crucial. 

Posted: 05/08/2013 01:54 PM EDT

If you’re trying to get healthy, tackling both diet and exercise is better than trying to improve one lifestyle habit at a time, new research suggests. But…the researchers did add that if you need to start with just one lifestyle change, choose exercise. They found that changing your diet first may interfere with attempts to establish a regular exercise routine.

The study included 200 people, aged 45 and older, who were inactive and had poor diets. They were split into four groups: new diet and exercise habits at the same time; diet changes first and starting exercise a few months later; starting exercise first and making diet changes a few months later; and no diet or exercise changes.

The groups received telephone coaching and were tracked for a year. Those who made diet and exercise changes at the same time were most likely to meet U.S. guidelines for exercise (150 minutes per week) and nutrition (5 to 9 servings of fruit and vegetables per day), and to keep calories from saturated fat at less than 10 percent of their total intake of calories.

The people who started with exercise first and diet changes a few months later also did a good job of meeting both the exercise and diet goals, but not quite as good as those who made exercise and diet changes at the same time, the Stanford University School of Medicine researchers said in a news release from Stanford.

The participants who made diet changes first and started exercise later did a good job of meeting the dietary goals but didn’t meet their exercise targets. This may be because each type of change has unique characteristics, explained study author Abby King, a professor of health research and policy and of medicine.

Read more about the benefits of diet and exercise at BlackDoctor.Org.

BET Health News - We go beyond the music and entertainment world to bring you important medical information and health-related tips of special relevance to Blacks in the U.S. and around the world. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter. 

Get ready for the BET Experience, featuring Beyoncé, Snoop DoggR. Kelly, Erykah BaduKendrick Lamar and many more. Go here for more details and info on how to buy tickets.

(Photos from left: Jim Cummins/Getty Images, Photostock Israel/Getty Images)

Videos You May Like

From Our Partners