Are Exercise and Diet Equally Important?

The United States is in the midst of an enormous public health crisis: More than two-thirds of Americans are overweight, one-third of who suffer from obesity.

Contrary to popular belief, being thin does not necessarily mean one is healthy. And, while regular exercise can balance some of the harmful health consequences of being overweight, it certainly cannot remove them entirely. That is why, according to a study, weight and activity levels are powerful predictors of living a long life; the healthiest people are those who are both thin and physically active.

Researchers conducted studies involving female nurses in order to determine the affect of both exercise and weight on health.

Fit vs. Fat Findings

  • Women who were obese and inactive had a 2.5 times higher mortality rate than women who were lean and active

  • Those women who were active (despite being obese) were twice as likely to die a premature death than those who were lean and active

  • Lean women who exercised under 3.5 hours a week increased their risk of premature death by 55 percent, compared to those women who worked out more often

  • Obese women who worked out for at least 3.5 hours a week experienced a death rate that was 91 percent higher than lean women who exercised similarly

  • The premature death rate was 142 times greater for obese, inactive women

While physical activity does help improve health, excess weight can carry a number of significant health risks. Being obese triples the risk of heart disease, as well as produces a tenfold increase in the chance of developing diabetes.

The Ledger December 23, 2004

ABC News December 22, 2004

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

You may remember the results of a study I posted earlier this fall that found fitness may play a greater role in heart health than what you weigh. However, I believe exercise and nutrition go hand-in-hand. There is no doubt that both physical activity and a proper diet can

  • Help treat health problems
  • Lower your risk for diseases
  • Help you live a long life full of energy and passion

Also, controlling your insulin levels is important to optimize your health. You see, when you eat grains and sugar your insulin levels increase. When insulin levels increase, you are telling your body to store carbohydrates as fat and to not release any of the stored fat. (This makes it impossible for you to use your own stored body fat for energy.)

So the excess carbohydrates in your diet not only make you GAIN WEIGHT, they make sure you keep that weight on. By cutting grains and sugars from your diet, you will not only tame your weight but also fight illnesses.

A daily exercise routine is another main factor in accomplishing optimal wellness.

The key to exercising is to make sure you are using it effectively. By doing so, you will ensure all your hard efforts are not wasted and are having a positive effect on your body. To aid you in your exercise efforts, there are three important variables to exercise to keep in mind:

  • Length of time
  • Frequency
  • Intensity

I encourage my patients to gradually increase the amount of time they are exercising to one hour a day. Initially the frequency is daily. This is a treatment dose until they normalize their weight or insulin levels. Once normalized, they will only need to exercise three to four times a week.

You should exercise hard enough so that it is difficult to talk to someone next to you. When you are exercising that hard your cardiovascular system is under such a significant amount of stress that the mere act of talking makes you unable to provide your body with enough oxygen. However, if you cannot carry on a conversation AT ALL, then you have gone too far and need to decrease the intensity.

Exercising, and of course eating right, should come naturally in your daily life. You can learn more about incorporating the right exercise program into your life by reading Paul Chek's newest book, How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy!, a perfect complement to my nutritional plan (found in my book).

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