Although we know that a healthy diet and the right amount of exercise are key players in treating and preventing obesity, we still don't know very much about how one affects the other. But a new study provides a clue, revealing that an increase in physical activity is linked to an improvement in diet quality.
When a person decides to lose weight, they have many questions, such as would it be better to start a diet first and then begin to exercise, or start with exercise? And how much does one affect the other?
"Understanding the interaction between exercise and a healthy diet could improve preventive and therapeutic measures against obesity by strengthening current approaches and treatments," explains Miguel Alonso Alonso, researcher at Harvard University.
The data from epidemiological studies suggest that tendencies towards a healthy diet and the right amount of physical exercise often go hand-in-hand. Furthermore, an increase in physical activity is usually linked to a parallel improvement in diet quality.
Exercise also increases the awareness of the feeling of being full, which leads to better appetite control.
According to Alonso Alonso, "physical exercise seems to encourage a healthy diet. In fact, when exercise is added to a weight-loss diet, treatment of obesity is more successful and the diet is adhered to in the long run."
The authors of the study state that it is important to encourage physical exercise throughout the population. Exercise should be encouraged in schools, and urban environments should be made more exercise-friendly by encouraging the use of public transportation and providing sports facilities and pedestrian areas.
Previous studies have shown that exercise causes changes in the function and structure of the brain that helps with resisting temptations, such as the tendency to overeat.