Nutrition or exercise: It’s a classic case of trying to decide between two things you might not be crazy about. Nutrition and exercise are the foundation to a healthy life and longevity. They might not be the most enjoyable things to do at times, but they are essential. Is one more important than the other? Let’s take a look at the benefits of both to determine if one holds more importance than the other.
The Case for Exercise
Whether it’s spending an hour lifting weights, going for a long bike ride, or attending your favorite fitness class, exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle.
Burns Calories: All physical activity burns calories, but moderate to high intensity exercise really cranks up the fire. Greater caloric expenditure can help to keep your weight in check by burning stored body fat.
Good for Your Brain: The benefits of exercise are often associated with what you’re able to see, and people all too often forget that exercise can play a dramatic role in the health of your brain. Studies show that exercise promotes cell health, brain development, and cognitive processes, especially working memory.
Lowers Risk for Disease: Maintaining a consistent exercise program – regardless if it’s lifting weight or training for a 5k – has been shown to help stave off certain diseases with an emphasis on cardiovascular disease, heart disease, and diabetes.
The Case for Nutrition
70% of Your Visible Results: You might have heard this tired old phrase before, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less true: The majority of the results you see in the mirror come from nutrition. You can’t crunch or curl your way out of a terrible diet.
Essential for All Wellness: Eating healthy is essential for more than looking lean; nutrition plays a key role in literally every facet of your health. Feeling depressed? A diet focused in junk food has been suggested to promote negative mood and mindset. Always getting sick? Food choices correlate directly to the strength and efficiency of your immune system. Eyesight, digestion, skin: it’s all connected to nutrition.
Also Lowers Disease Risk: Like exercise, nutrition can help to lower the risk of developing a variety of diseases including obesity, certain cancers, and Alzheimer’s.
Which One is More Important?
As you might expect, exercise and nutrition are inseparable. It isn’t a matter of choosing one over the other; rather, it’s about striking a balance of healthy eating with a few cheat meals here and there, along with staying active, not necessarily spending two hours in the gym each and every day.
If you have to choose one, I would say focus on nutrition above exercise. Why? Developing healthy eating habits involves more education and effort than getting yourself up and about. Learning to cook nutritious meals, for example, might take you more time to master than a full-body workout.
My recommendation: Focus on developing lifelong eating habits while making time for daily physical activity. Once you feel secure in your diet, then start to look at specific workout routines.
Are You Trying to Get Healthier?
What have you found to be more difficult: eating healthy or beginning an exercise program? Any tips that you have for following a healthy lifestyle?