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Regular exercise won’t save you from an early grave if you still do this

You can’t “outrun” a bad diet.

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sport, fitness and healthy lifestyle concept - indian man making abdominal exercises at home
Researchers say that regular exercise needs to be combined with a healthy diet. (Ground Picture via Shutterstock)

By Gwyn Wright via SWNS

Regular exercise won’t save you from an early grave if you eat unhealthily, according to a new study.

Scientists in Australia found people who eat well and get plenty of exercise are at the lowest risk of early death, showing you can’t “outrun” a bad diet.

The team found people who exercise a lot and eat healthy meals were at a 17 percent lower risk of death from all causes compared with lazy people who eat badly.

They were also 19 percent less likely to die of heart disease and 27 percent less likely to die from certain types of cancers.

For the study, researchers probed the independent and joint effects of diet and physical activity on all-cause, heart disease and cancer mortality among 360,000 Brits.

Participants took part in the UK Biobank, a large cohort study containing detailed biological, behavioral, and health information about people.

High-quality diets were defined as ones that included at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, two portions of fish per week and lower consumption of red meat, particularly processed meat.

Lead study author Professor Melody Ding from the University of Sydney said: “Both regular physical activity and a healthy diet play an important role in promoting health and longevity.

“Some people may think they could offset the impacts of a poor diet with high levels of exercise or offset the impacts of low physical activity with a high-quality diet, but the data shows that unfortunately, this is not the case.”

Study co-author John Van Buskirk, from the same university, added: “Adhering to both a quality diet and sufficient physical activity is important for optimally reducing the risk of death from all causes, cardiovascular disease and cancers.”

Fresh vegetables and fruits on bright green background. Ripe pears, grapes, lime, cabbage, lettuce salad, peas and bok choy for healthy eating. Creative layout. Grocery and organic products.
A healthy diet consists of least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, two portions of fish per week and lower consumption of red meat, particularly processed meat. (Cast Of Thousands/Shutterstock)

A small number of earlier studies have shown that high-intensity exercise may counteract detrimental responses to over-eating on the brain but the long-term effects of how diet and physical activity interact has long been less clear.

The findings highlight the importance of eating healthily and getting plenty of exercise if you want to avoid an early death.

Professor Ding added: “This study reinforces the importance of both physical activity and diet quality for achieving the greatest reduction in mortality risk.

“Public health messages and clinical advice should focus on promoting both physical activity and dietary guidelines to promote healthy longevity.”

The findings were published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

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