3 Reasons to Add Exercise to Your Diet
3 Reasons to Add Exercise to Your Diet

How physical activity can make healthy eating even more effective

Maximize Your Diet With Exercise

While there is plenty of information and advice available about how to maximize your eating for health, many articles fail to mention the physical activity end of the equation. As humans we were designed for physical movement and modern lifestyles have removed our opportunity to be physically active. Diet and activity tend to amplify and compliment each other. In fact, adding physical activity to your routine may go a lot farther than just changing what you eatHere are three reasons to ensure that physical activity becomes a staple in your life. 

1. Food and Activity are Inextricably Linked

If you have ever counted and tracked calories, you clearly see how food and activity are linked, especially when you calculate your net calories for the day. When thinking about weight management, it is important to link food and activity rather than think of them separately. In fact, you could shift your thinking when you plan meals and snacks and do it with exercise in mind. For instance, you may benefit from adding a high protein snack after a very vigorous workout or you could plan to use movement and feel free to indulge on that extra piece of chocolate.

"Physical activity is absolutely critical in the energy-balance equation," according to James Hill, Ph.D., Director, Center for Human Nutrition, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and Founder, National Weight Control Registry. "We simply cannot be as sedentary as we are and have a chance at maintaining a healthy weight."

Hill also points out that activity doesn't have to be vigorous or extraordinary to manage weight. "Participants in the National Weight Loss Registry (those who have lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for a year) engage in high levels of physical activity—on average about 1 hour per day—with walking the most frequently reported activity." He adds: "The majority of registrants watch less than 10 hours of television a week."


easy exercises for 100 calorie burn2. Keep Off the Midlife Weight Gain: Burn 100 Extra Calories Per Day

Most Americans gain one to two pounds per year after age 35. If you break this annual weight gain down to a daily figure, it is about 100 calories extra per day. The good news is that 100 calories a day is a fairly easy amount to manage so that you can avoid that one-to-two pound annual gain. You have two options, and a combination of both may work best, eat 100 fewer calories per day or ramp up the exercise. 

Calories can be reduced by simple changes such as using smaller plates or putting the fruit bowl on the counter while stashing the higher calorie snacks where they are not easily seen.1 Physical activity has so many other health benefits, everyone would be wise to add extra movement to your daily routine. See the table for some very simple suggestions for burning 100 calories. 

3. Exercise Brings Health Benefits Beyond Weight Management

In addition to helping you balance your calories for the day, physical activity has other important benefits for your health.  

Physical activity has been shown to have a positive effect on digestion, it keeps metabolism from getting sluggish and it improves cardiovascular function, reducing the risk of heart disease 2. Exercise also helps you maintain your level of lean muscle mass. Replacing inactive fat stores with active lean muscle mass allows you to burn extra calories even when you’re watching TV or sleeping. Because muscle is more metabolically active, the more you have, the more you burn. Physical activity has also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, which can keep blood sugar in a healthy range 3,4.

While you are thinking of ways to improve your diet for weight management, be sure to add in regular exercise for a winning formula! 

  1. B Wansink - Annu. Rev. Nutr., 2004
  2. http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/early/2014/04/15/bjsports-2013-093090.abstract.
  3. Bollinger L, LaFontaine T. Exercise and insulin resistance. Strength & Conditioning Journal. Oct. 2011(33):5 40-43.
  4. Borghouts LB, Keizer HA. Exercise and insulin sensitivity: a review. International Journal of Sports Medicine 2000, 21(1):1-12.