Diet or Exercise?
Joselyn Jedick D.O., is a family medicine resident at the Banner Good Samaritan Family Medicine Center in Phoenix, Ariz.
Question: If I had to choose between committing to a healthy diet or exercise program, which would have the greatest benefit on my overall health?
Answer: A healthy diet and exercise go hand-in-hand and together provide the greatest benefit for your overall health. Committing to one and not the other shortchanges you from achieving the best possible results. The benefits of each are discussed below.
Dietary adjustments alone can result in significant weight loss and health benefits. One pound of body weight is equivalent to 3,500 calories. So, cutting 500 calories a day from your diet results in one pound of weight loss per week. This can easily be done by paying close attention to food labels. Some effective ideas are to eliminate sodas and other high calories beverages. It can also be achieved by replacing high calorie snacks such as candy and chips with lower calorie fruits and vegetables.
Exercise has many health benefits such as promoting physical fitness, improving muscle strength, increasing bone density and helping with stress relief. Exercise can also lead to weight loss as well by burning calories. For example, it would take two hours of dancing, one and a half hours of jogging or one hour of fast cycling to burn off 500 calories. Large studies have shown that people who combine regular exercise with dietary changes tend to be more successful with weight loss than diet-only efforts.
From a health perspective, people with heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and other weight-related health issues can reduce, if not reverse, the effects of these complications through weight loss and exercise. Maintaining a healthy body weight also boosts self-esteem and body image.
Instead of going all out with one or the other, your best bet is to create a plan that includes both a consistently healthy diet and regular aerobic exercise. Contact your personal physician before beginning any weight loss or exercise plan as he/she will help determine the best course of action for your individual needs.