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Which Works Better for Cardiac Health―Dieting, Exercise or a Combo of Both?

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Combing dieting with exercise is recommended for best heart health result

For men and women who are overweight, which works better for their cardiac health—focusing on diet alone, exercise alone, or a combination of both weight loss strategies? Here’s what one recent study found.


According to a news release from St. Louis University, researcher and sports cyclist Ted Weiss, Ph.D. has recently published the results of his latest study in an early online issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that tests whether there is more to benefit from exercising or from dieting when it comes to protecting your body against cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Weiss’ testing consisted of dividing 52 overweight, middle-aged men and women into three groups focused on losing about 7 percent of their body weight during a 12-14 week period. The first group used dieting alone and was instructed to decrease their food intake by 20 percent; the second group used exercise alone and was instructed to increase their activity levels by 20 percent; the third grouped did both and was instructed to eat 10 percent less and move 10 percent more.

Along with following each study participant’s weight loss, Dr. Weiss and his team also collected data on other indictors of heart health such as blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol levels for the presence of both good and bad cholesterol, blood glucose levels, C-reactive protein and arterial stiffness.

What the researchers found was that all three strategies used by the three groups were essentially equally effective in improving cardiovascular health, and reduced a person’s lifetime risk of developing cardiovascular disease by 10 percent.

“For men and women with excess body weight, modest weight loss provides powerful protection against cardiovascular disease, regardless of whether weight loss is achieved by using exercise, a healthy low-calorie diet, or both,” states Dr. Weiss, who recommends everyone to use a combination of healthy eating and increased exercise as the preferred modalities for better heart health.

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Additional Diet and Exercise Advice

For more about improving your heart health through weight loss, here is an informative article that asks, “Low Carb or Low Fat, Which Is the Best Diet?” And for improving your heart health through exercise, here is an article that asks. “Are You Getting Enough Exercise for a Healthy Heart?”


St. Louis University news “Diet, Exercise, Both: All Work Equally to Protect Heart Health, SLU Study Finds

Effects of matched weight loss from calorie restriction, exercise, or both on cardiovascular disease risk factors: a randomized intervention trialThe American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; First published July 27, 2016; Edward P. Weiss et al.

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