If you are planning to change your lifestyle with A HEALTHIER ONE, you should change THE DIET AND YOUR EXERCISE HABITS at THE SAME TIME
The best lifestyle changing programs are those which recommend changing both your eating habits and your exercise routine, at the same time.
This is the conclusion of a new research from Stanford University School of Medicine, led by Abby King, a professor of health research and policy and of medicine. The study is meant to help the people who cannot decide what to begin with when starting a weight loss program. If they cannot decide between diet and exercise, the answer is: Both.
The research recruited 200 participants aged 45 and over who were not taking regular exercise and not eating very healthily. They were divided in 4 groups which were advised over the phone to follow a diet and/or program focused on:
- Changing diet and exercise at the same time;
- Changing diet first and the exercise routine a few months later;
- Exercise first, change diet later.
- Stress management and no particular advice concerning diet and exercise. Success was compared to this group.
All four groups were followed for 12 months. They all received on the telephone coaching for their weight loss program. As general guidelines, there were used the US national guideline for a healthy diet and for exercise. Healthy eating means serving five to nine portions of fruit and vegetables a day; the calories from saturated fats are less than 10% of total intake. For exercise, the US national guideline advises for 150 minutes per week of moderate activity.
The results showed that those who started with changes to diet did well in meeting the national guidelines for diet but failed to meet the exercise targets.
The group that started with exercise changes did a good job of meeting both exercise and diet goals.
The group that changed both diet and exercise at the same time was the only one that met the nationally recommended targets for both exercise and nutrition levels.
For the busy people, it was hard to change both diet and exercise habit. Changes to diet were probably easier to make because you don’t have to find extra time to eat, and you are just substituting one kind of food for another. The true challenge was finding enough time to include all the 150 minutes of exercises per week. Even the most successful group, the one that managed to achieve both the dietary and exercise changes together, struggled with the latter. Over the course of a year they did eventually manage to reach 150 minutes a week of regular moderate activity.
For the busy people, the telephone coaching seems to be a very good option. It is convenient and flexible, and can provide personalized advice to help individuals whose schedules and pressures make it very hard to change the habits of a lifetime.
According to the authors, “The results suggest that, in the current population, delivering physical activity and dietary interventions simultaneously may result in the most positive sustained outcomes across these two important health behaviors.”
King AC et al (2013). Behavioral Impacts of Sequentially versus Simultaneously Delivered Dietary Plus Physical Activity Interventions: the CALM Trial. Annals of Behavioral Medicine DOI 10.1007/s12160-013-9501-