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For the health of it — Why are diet and exercise important?

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Diet and exercise go hand in hand. Research shows that individuals who maintain a healthy diet and get regular exercise receive much greater health benefits that those who do either alone. A study of over 150 women showed those who engaged in a 14-week exercise program and decreased total caloric intake lost more weight than a group of individuals who altered either diet or exercise alone. The diet and exercise group lost weight, which was primarily fat. The weight loss stimulated improvements in markers of heart disease risk, body composition, energy expenditure and psychosocial parameters (2).

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers an even longer list of health benefits attributed to exercise. For example, physical activity has been shown to reduce the risk of developing or dying from heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, and high blood pressure. On average, people who are physically active outlive those who are inactive (1).

A good exercise program, in combination with a healthy diet, (one that is balanced and contains a variety of nutritious foods), can increase life expectancy by keeping the heart and body healthy, and preventing many long-term illnesses. Body weight can be kept to an acceptable level leading to a lifestyle that can be active and an improved quality of life - an ability to do things you enjoy for longer periods of time.


U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Fundamental To Preventing Disease. U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2002.

Kerksick, C., A. Thomas, B. Campbell, L. Taylor, C. Wilborn, B. Marcello, M. Roberts, E. Pfau, M. Grimstvedt, J. Opusunju, T. Magrans-Courtney, C. Rasmussen, R. Wilson, and R. Kreider. Effects of a popular exercise and weight loss program on weight loss, body composition, energy expenditure and health in obese women. Nutrition & Metabolism. 6:23, 2009.