The Cardiovascular Conundrum: Should you focus on dieting, or exercise?

The Cardiovascular Conundrum: Should you focus on dieting, or exercise?

If you’re looking to improve your cardiovascular health, you’ve probably faced this query before: is a better diet or regular exercise the better way to build cardiovascular efficiency?

According to a new U.S. study, you’re good with either path you take – as long as you’re losing weight.

A team of researchers from St. Louis University examined 52, overweight, middle-aged men and women, who were then split into three groups: dieters, exercisers, and hybrids (people who do both). The study group was then given the task of losing roughly seven percent of their body weight over 12-14 weeks.

The dieters were instructed to maintain a relatively healthy diet, and to cut their total food intake by 20 percent; the exercisers were also given a 20 percent bar, increasing their physical activity by that amount. The hybrids were given a split, asked to reduce food intake and up activity levels by 10 percent each way.

After the three-month trial, the researchers examined how each group’s lifestyle affected cardiovascular health indicators, such as blood pressure, heart rate, and levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol.

The results suggest modest weight loss from any three approaches made for significant improvements against the risks of cardiovascular disease. The three methods were deemed equally effective; it dropped the individual’s risk for developing cardiovascular disease from 46 percent, to 36 percent.

While the results show that either diet or exercise can be a boon to heart health, lead author of the study Edward Weiss notes that previous research does support a combination of healthy eating and exercise is still best. To be clear, the study doesn’t mean you’re good to indulge in junk food if you exercise regularly, or lead a lazy lifestyle even if you eat well.

The study was published in the online periodical the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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