Posted by Dr. Scott Wilson | 10-12-2014
Every New Year, many of us make a renewed commitment to changing our lives for the better; which often means an increased focus on our health. However, while we’re all increasingly aware that some combination of a healthy diet and regular exercise is key to improving our overall health, the fact is that some of us simply can’t commit to doing both. Whether it’s because eating healthier seems too complicated or because exercising regularly feels too far from our natural comfort zone, the inevitable question that follows, and one we often hear from patients, is which is more important, diet or exercise? Of course, the answer is that both are important but if you have a very specific goal, one might be more important than the other. LOSING WEIGHT: When it comes to losing weight, the objective is to reduce your overall daily calorie count by reducing how many calories you eat and increasing how many calories your body burns off. This is why eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly generates the best results. That said, if you really can’t commit to both, focusing on eating a healthier diet is most likely to get the best results. The reason is that most people can reduce their overall calorie count more by changing what/how much they eat than they can by burning calories through daily exercise. Of course, exercise not only helps burn fat, it also builds muscle. While muscle does weigh more, it also takes up less space than fat, so you’ll look slimmer and your clothes will fit better if you exercise regularly as well. INCREASING ENERGY: If your goal is to increase your energy levels and improve your mood, exercise is your best bet. While there are several reasons for this (improves blood flow, oxygenation and sleep quality), one major reason is that exercise causes your brain to produce neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine which directly boosts your energy levels and makes you feel happier and more positive (ever heard of the runners high). The regular release of these neurotransmitters along with the other benefits mentioned above can also help your body cope with stress by leaving you feeling generally more relaxed and positive. REDUCING RISK OF DISEASE: If your focus is reducing risk factors for a specific condition or type of conditions, the choice between diet and exercise comes down to which condition or type of conditions you’re looking to avoid. If heart disease is your concern, controlling portion sizes, eating more fruits & vegetables, adding in more omega-3 fatty acids and reducing the amount of sodium you eat can help make a big difference. If Diabetes is your primary concern, getting regular exercise can help to regulate blood sugar and so might be more advantageous. Of course, in both cases, you’re going to be much better off with a combination of healthier diet and regular exercise. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly are both important parts of living a healthy lifestyle. While choosing one over the other might seem like a great way to minimize the amount of change you need to make while still getting results, the best way to achieve sustainable longer term results, particularly when it comes to losing weight and avoiding many age-related health conditions, is through a combination of healthy eating and regular exercise. Of course, if you need help with either of these, please don’t hesitate to let us know. Remember, at Physiomed…Healthier Starts Here.