What’s more important: Exercise or diet?

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Have you ever found yourself thinking “I exercise, so I can eat anything I want” or “I eat healthy, so I don’t need to exercise?” That train of thought can cause unexpected weight gain and unhealthy habits.

As a society we are no longer as active as we once were. Years ago, my grandfather, a farmer, ate red meat almost daily. However, he led a lifestyle centered on activity, spending most of his days working the field. He also ate primarily what he grew, which means much of his diet was plant based. My grandfather died peacefully after a long and healthy life, working up until the day he died. This lifestyle is not the norm for most of us in today’s technologically advanced world, so incorporating regular exercise and healthy nutrition choices in our daily life are both important.

Get moving

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “you cannot out exercise/run a bad diet” and it’s true. It may take only minutes to consume hundreds of calories that takes hours to burn off (it takes 30 minutes of walking to burn off a 140-calorie, sugary snack). When you look at people who have lost weight and who are managing to keep it off, exercise likely is key to that success.

Exercise helps you lose weight by burning mostly fat; diet alone won’t do that. And because muscles takes up less space than fat, exercise will help your cloths fit better. Exercise also helps boost your metabolism, meaning you burn more calories all day long.

Research shows that you don’t have to hit the gym for hours at a time to see the benefits of exercise. Frequent shorter sessions (10 minutes, two to three times per day) of moderate-intensity activity offer similar health benefits as longer sessions at the gym. Adding variety to your exercise routine will help you stay motivated, see results and not get bored.

A well-rounded routine should include cardio exercise (for heart health), resistance training (for strength), functional-fitness training (for balance) and stretching (for flexibility). But don’t just stop at the recommended 30 minutes a day, the amount of time you sit matters, too. Avoid a sedentary lifestyle by getting up and moving periodically throughout the day.

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