There’s bad news for anyone who thinks vigorous exercise can offset a diet that favors junk food over fruits and vegetables.
Most important points:
- Researchers examined the effects of diet and exercise with 360,600 British adults
- The study found that people who were highly active on a high-quality diet had the lowest risk of death
- High-quality diets include five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, two servings of fish per week, and limited red meat
Research led by the University of Sydney found that intense exercise does not counteract the adverse effects of a poor diet on a person’s risk of death.
The study found that people with high levels of physical activity and a high-quality diet had the lowest risk of death, demonstrating that you can’t avoid a poor diet.
Researchers examined the independent and collaborative effects of diet and exercise on cardiovascular disease, cancer and all-cause mortality using 360,600 British adults from the UK Biobank.
The UK Biobank is a large-scale study with in-depth biological, behavioral and health information from participants.
High-quality diets consisted of a minimum of five servings of fruit and vegetables per day, two servings of fish per week, and reduced consumption of red meat, especially processed meat.
For those who exercised and followed a high-quality diet, their all-cause mortality risk was reduced by 17 percent, 19 percent from cardiovascular disease and 27 percent from select cancers — compared with those on the worst diet who were physically inactive.
Lead author Melody Ding said there was no escaping the fact that “both regular exercise and a healthy diet play important roles in promoting health and longevity.”
“Some people may think that they can offset the effects of a poor diet with a lot of exercise or offset the effects of low physical activity with a high-quality diet, but unfortunately the data shows this is not the case,” says Dr. Thing. said.
Researcher at the Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity at the University of South Australia, Dot Dumuid, was not involved in the study but credited the large dataset for providing robust evidence.
She emphasized that the study found that there was still some benefit from exercising or eating a high-quality diet.
“The group that had high activity and lacked the proper nutrition still had a reduced risk of death,” said Dr. dumuid.
dr. Dumuid said the study left room to explore more indicators of a low-quality diet, including sugary or energy-dense foods.
She said it was important to remember that the study focused on the outcome of premature death.
“There is still a lot to live for an untimely death, so there is quality of life, pleasure and happiness,” said Dr. dumuid.
“There are things that need to be explored more…to find that balance and the compromise.”
A small number of studies have previously shown that vigorous exercise can counteract adverse physiological responses to overeating.
dr. However, Ding said the latest study reinforced the importance of both physical activity and diet quality for reducing the risk of death.
The study is published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.