Which is Better? Diet or Exercise?

Mindy and I are currently staying on our “concrete slab” at the Bryn Mawr RV resort directly on Butler Beach, FL, just south of St. Augustine. This is the big news: We have been here for nine days, and I have surfed (decent surf) every single day. I lived in Florida for many years prior to moving to California and was never able to string that many surf days together. Water: 80 degrees, air: 83 degrees. No wetsuit required. I love it. Sadly, the surf run is coming to an end here for the time being on the east coast of Florida, and I am turning my attention to some very interesting health news.

A recently published study has shed a very bright light on which is more important for longevity and health span: Diet or exercise. Spoiler alert: It’s both!

This was a massive (good thing) study published by the British Medical Journal. An international team of researchers examined data from nearly 350,000 participants collected from the U.K. Biobank, an enormous medical database with health information from people across Britain, and followed up over a decade-long period. Study participants’ average age was 57, and all were considered healthy at the start, which meant none had been previously diagnosed with a serious chronic condition like cancer or heart disease.

Using self-reported data, the researchers broke people’s diets down by quality. High-quality diets had at least 4.5 cups of fruit and vegetables per day, two or more servings of fish per week, less than two servings of processed meats per week, and no more than five servings of red meat per week. The study did not measure foods like soft drinks or desserts.

The scientist also measured physical activity levels using responses from another questionnaire that asked participants how much time they spent engaging in moderate physical activity, like walking or biking at a steady pace. The researchers noted that this was the first study to examine diet and exercise alongside both general mortality and specific lethal diseases, like cancer.

The results clearly demonstrated that the participants with both higher physical activity levels and better quality diets had the lowest mortality risk. Physical activity levels were associated with a lower mortality risk, but those who regularly engaged in sweat-producing vigorous exercise had a much lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality. Just 10 to 75 minutes per week made a statistically significant difference.

The results are no big surprise to me. Plant-based nutrition and physical activity are cornerstones of my health-span regimen and my prostate cancer battle. The only comment I can make is that this study’s “healthy diet” group had a pretty low bar to clear. The “red meat only 5 times a week” is the diet most Americans are already eating. If they just looked at people in the cohort who ate a strictly or mostly plant-based diet, I bet the mortality and health differences would have been even more impressive. But this study makes clear that even just leaning into a more plant-based diet and exercise will positively impact your overall health.

Mindy and I are very excited to be speakers and presenters for the upcoming first annual Music City Fitcon in Memphis, TN, at the Sheraton Music City Hotel from October 21st through the 23rd. Register now to get a discount for this conference that will provide you with all the fitness AND evidence-based nutrition motivation you will ever need.

Also, we are running a special $50 off our 9-hour for our OneDayToWellness online certification program, including a bonus cooking day. Just enter the code “Green” to receive the discount at checkout.

To get an idea of what we do and who we are, take a look at our new video recipe for:
Oil-free, air-fried soy curls. Tastes just like fried chicken without the saturated fat, grease, and cholesterol.

Health Update:
Had my third PSMA scan at Stanford Medical Center at the end of July. The prostate cancer I have been fighting continues to just sit in my prostate bed and has not grown. My PSA also stayed pretty much unchanged for three months which has never happened to me since being diagnosed 11 years ago. As always, I feel physically fantastic, but surfing every day for 9 days will do that for me along with an oil-free, whole-foods, plant-based diet.

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