Why I Feel Exercise is MORE Important Than Nutrition

Yes folks, you read that right – I strongly feel that if you are going to make any change in your lifestyle, I would suggest exercising instead of improving your diet. Below you’ll find my no-nonsense reasons why (I apologize ahead of time for my bluntness):

Geriatric rehabBack in 2000 I was a student athletic therapist at a sports injury clinic with a very large geriatric population. Over that year I treated a lot of injuries – things like frozen shoulder, wrist fractures and other injuries. Most of the injuries resulted from falls. Our rehab focused on restoring their functional ability, increasing their range of motion and getting our clients back to being able to care for themselves. a lot of our clients had lost their independence and could barely walk as a result of their injuries. It was a really sad thing to watch all day – but rewarding to help the people too.

The one thought that played in my head every day was: WHY?

  • Why were these people falling?
  • Why were they getting injured?
  • Why did they have frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis)?

The answer: LACK OF MOVEMENT

Exercise helps with MANY things that are critical for longevity things that simply eating “healthy” can’t do for you.

Exercise:

  • increases strength
  • increases balance (proprioception aka kinesthetic awareness)
  • increases flexibility
  • increases cardiovascular endurance
  • increases muscular endurance
  • increases LDL (good cholesterol)
  • reduces HDL (bad cholesterol)
  • increases mental capablility
  • reduces blood pressure
  • helps you to feel good

I could provide you with a much more extensive list, but I’m sure you get the point I’m making.  Truth be told, a fall in the later years of life causes a loss of mobility.  When you lose that mobility other parts of your body begin to shut down, ie: your heart can no longer get the exercise it needs to pump blood through you effectively.

Don’t believe me?  Then go read the results of this study:

Mobility difficulties and physical activity as predictors of mortality and loss of independence in the community-living older population

Exercise is critical to longevity and maintaining independence – I want to live long enough to CHASE my grandchildren the way my dad chases my kids, don’t you?

All the best in health and fitness,

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Comments

  1. says

    I couldnt agree more. While what you put into your body is important exercise is much more important. Plus I strongly feel that when people start to work out to some degree it will only help inspire them to eat better in order to push there progress further.

    I started off changing my eating habits and I hate it, now that I am into the fitness lifestyle a little more, I absolutely love eating the wright food in order to fuel my workouts even more.

    Win Win!

  2. says

    I agree with you! If you don’t exercise and you eat like crap, and you find yourself staring down the barrel of a major lifestyle change, I think exercise is the place to start. Eating right will only help part of that list you included…exercise will do it all.

    And I think once people start exercising, eating right starts to fall into place. You start to learn what makes your body feel good and feel bad, and you learn about fueling your body to get what you need out of exercise.

    Way to step up with this post! Love it!

  3. says

    Funny – for me – exercise is my gateway to other healthier habits (rest, water, healthy food/fuel). So whenever I want to “shift”, my first step is to start to move. Thanks for sharing!

  4. says

    In my opinion, it’s a Healthy Lifestyle Triad – Regular exercise (cardio being most important), Healthy Low Glycemic Eating and Optimal Supplementation. Do one, your health improves a bit. Do any two, your health improves even more. And do all three, for life, and you’ve got Optimal Health for Life! See http://www.releasingfat.com for more info. My 30 Days to Optimal Health program is based on this program and I’ve seen lots of great success!

  5. says

    I definitely find when I’m exercising regularly, the eating habits seem to follow along on their own. I think it’s at least partially that exercise provides me with tremendous stress relief, and I’m a lot less likely to stress eat!

  6. says

    Interesting points. Ideally it would never come down to one or the other however I have to respectfully disagree with exercise being more important for long term health. As someone who make fitness a priority in my everyday life I also acknowledge that without proper nutrition I can’t build & repair muscle or fuel my workouts. In addition, nutrition has both healing properties as well as the potential for disease prevention. I strongly believe that what we put into our bodies is what we are going to get out of them and all the running/weight lifting in the world can’t correct the damage of a poor diet. Essentially, if I had to choose I would (begrudgingly) choose nutrition over exercise. That said, I am a wholeheartedly believe in the Trifecta for Optimal Health: Whole Food Based Diet, Regular Exercise (combo of strength, cardio and stretch) and Stress Management.
    Samantha´s last post ..How Blogging Changed My Life

  7. says

    I think nutrition and exercise are absolutely equally important. If you’re eating a poor diet and are carrying around excess weight, it’s going to do damage on your joints no matter how much exercise you do! And, a healthy diet can help with a lot of physical conditions that stem from inflammation.
    Janel´s last post ..Tufts Health Plan 10k

  8. says

    Enjoyed your article. Over the past 17 years that I’ve been helping people lose weight I’ve noticed that people don’t want to give up what they love to eat or drink. They will over exercise to get away with it! There’s only 24 hours in a day so that doesn’t work. Exercise and healthy eating are twins!

  9. says

    I agree with you that exercise plays an absolutely vital role in achieving optimal health, at any age. As a distance runner, I can relate to all of the benefits you’ve listed here. However, I believe nutrition must be the largest part of the equation: we are what we eat. And without fueling my body with the proper foods, there’s no way I’d have the energy, endurance or even the mental capacity to run. Whole foods and natural herbs have the power to heal and prevent acute and chronic disease. You say that simply eating healthy (and not exercising, I assume) can’t lower blood pressure, impact cholesterol levels, increase mental capability or help you feel good. I have to disagree there. Take cholesterol, for example. Foods containing soluble fiber such as beans, lentils and legumes lower LDL cholesterol. Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants that prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol (which is what makes it “bad”). And when you eat whole foods instead of refined, processed ‘phood’… you’ll feel good and have more energy to exercise!
    Kennedy´s last post ..Love for Live

  10. says

    I couldn’t have said it better myself. We all know that both exercise and good nutrition are both important but as you point out, exercising can result in much more powerful results that dieting alone. Also, I find people have a very hard time trying to really change their diets but starting an exercise routine only requires 1 daily commitment not 3 to 6 or more daily commitments like eating healthy does.
    Scott´s last post ..How Much Do Personal Trainers Make?

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