Diet, exercise, both: all protect the heart equally well

Diet, exercise, both

For overweight and obese people, what is the best way to improve heart health?  In a study newly conducted by Saint Louis University, researchers find that dieting, exercising, or a combination of both can do the job equally well.

The finding is published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers recruited 52 overweight men and women aged 45-65 years for a weight-loss training program.

The goal was to lose 6-8% of body weight during 12-14 weeks with diet, exercise, or the combination of both.

Participants who exclusively dieted or exercised were told to decrease their food intake by 20% or increase their activity levels by 20%. Participants who did both were told to eat 10% less and move 10% more.

Several indices of heart health were measured before and after weight loss. They included maximal oxygen consumption, heart rate, blood pressure, glucose, arterial stiffness, and other markers for heart disease and stroke.

The result showed that after the training, all participants lost about 7% of body weight, and there was not difference in the 3 groups.

Importantly, the three strategies were equally effective in improving cardiovascular health, and were expected to reduce a person’s lifetime risk of developing cardiovascular disease 10 percent – from 46% to 36 percent%.

Researchers suggest that overweight people have more than one option to protect their heart and lose weight.

When they focus on dieting or exercising alone, they should not ignore the other part. It will be not helpful if they take regular exercise while eating high calorie junk food.

In fact, both diet and exercise are important for health and longevity. Keeping a balance between the two is a better choice.

Citation: Weiss EP, et al. (2016). Effects of matched weight loss from calorie restriction, exercise, or both on cardiovascular disease risk factors: a randomized intervention trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 104: 576-586. DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.116.131391.
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