It’s a question that has been around for as long as people have been in existence: Are exercise and diet equally important? Do we really need both to be healthy? The answer is an unequivocal “yes.” Diet and exercise work in tandem with each other to promote optimum health, particularly when you are focused on weight loss as a part of your “get healthy” regimen.
What Diet Does for Your Health
When it comes to your diet for being healthy, it’s not always about weight loss or weight maintenance. What you put into your body affects it in a number of ways. It can not only provide a means of improved body function, but it can help prevent disease as well. For instance, foods rich in antioxidants and low in artificial ingredients and chemicals are said to keep your risk of cancer at bay, while eating foods low on the glycemic index and eating a balance of carbs, protein and fats can help you manage diabetes, if not avoid it altogether. In addition, foods low in saturated fat promote a healthy heart and cardiovascular system, and keeping your weight at a reasonable amount for your body structure will have long-lasting effects on your bones, joints, and energy levels.
What Exercise Does for Your Health
When you eat, you are providing fuel for your body and, essentially, what you put in your body is what you are doing to your body. However, exercise is something your body does, as opposed to something you do to it. Exercise means using your body and strengthening its muscles on many levels. The heart is a muscle, so cardiovascular exercise strengthens that muscle, which in turn provides better circulation and oxygenation of cells. Your rest of your muscles provide various other benefits, like supporting your skeletal structure (better posture), maintaining strength (prevents injury), helping your body regulate blood sugar (great for diabetics), and causing you to burn more calories overall (a pound of muscle takes more energy to maintain than a pound of fat).
Aside from the obvious physical benefits of exercise, there are psychological and hormonal benefits as well. When you exercise, you release hormones like endorphins that provide a “feel good” euphoria which improves mood, regulates any mood swings better, and can be a natural remedy for depression. Also, you are able to sleep more soundly, helping your body recover nightly through its natural restoration process.
Why Diet and Exercise Work Together So Well
Diet and exercise work so well together for your health because you are combining the best of both required elements for total body health. Each has its purpose, so one without the other won’t have the same results. When it comes right down to it, you have your body’s metabolic and nutritional needs met through proper nutrition, which gives you more energy to exercise. Conversely, when you exercise more, your appetite is suppressed and your body craves better food. Focusing on one without the other just doesn’t make sense. Diet and exercise are both required for better health – even if it means just incorporating small changes into your diet, and taking a brisk walk a few days a week. There is no substitute for a holistic approach to your well being, and when it comes to diet and exercise, you absolutely need both.
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