If you are embarking on healthy behavior change, a first-of-its-kind study suggests that making changes in both your diet and your exercise simultaneously will give you the most bang for your efforts. For this eye-opening intervention study, scientist specifically selected study subjects who felt their busy lifestyles made it very difficult to be healthy. 200 adults with poor diets and no exercise regimen were placed in 1 of 4 study groups. Each group received monthly phone-based guidance from a health coach. The first group was instructed to make changes in their diets and to begin a regular exercise program at the same time. The second group was directed to make diet changes, but not to change their exercise patterns for a few months. The third group was counseled to establish exercise first then make diet changes. The fourth group did not make any diet or exercise changes, but was given stress control tips. Despite their time-strapped and busy lives, at the end of this one-year study those making both diet and exercise changes from the get-go had the greatest success in meeting the recommended health goals.
This study supports what I have personally experienced and what I strongly believe to be the case. Positive diet and exercise changes are mutually reinforcing and doing one naturally makes doing the other easier! (Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 2013 DOI: 10.1007/s12160-013-9501-y)