This is an article I have been meaning to write for a little while now, as I believe that setting the right balance between exercise and nutrition is the key factor in achieving healthy sustainable weight loss. With this in mind, a question that is often challenged is, what is more important – exercise or nutrition?
Of course, a healthy lifestyle should consist of both exercise & nutrition and you should not forgo one for the other. Exercise is essential for maintaining healthy bones, supple and flexible joints, strengthening the muscles, boosting the immune system and supporting the overall working of the cardiovascular system. Good nutrition is also vital in helping to combat obesity, warding off infections, boosting energy levels and supplying our trillion cells with adequate vitamins & minerals to allow the human body to function at its optimum level.
As you can see, both aspects, exercise & nutrition are essential in maintaining good health and fitness. But in terms of weight loss & weight maintenance however, the focus (in my opinion) should be on proper nutrition. It is much easier to control what is going in to your system as opposed to trying to sweat it out after the damage is done. To put it in perspective, it takes 30 minutes to burn off 300 calories, and probably only about 3 minutes to eat the equivalent! We know that if we intake a surplus amount of calories without burning them off, it does eventually, turn into adipose tissue (fat cells). Therefore continuing this trend on a day-to-day basis, explains why obesity levels are so prevalent in today’s society.
We are only human, and with busy schedules and demanding sit-down office jobs, the opportunities to exercise can be limiting. Out of the seven days in the week, it is recommended that we do some form of heart-raising exercise on at least three of them. If this proves challenging, the very least we can do is ensure that the food we are eating on a daily basis is not going to further damage our bodies by putting strain on our cardiovascular system, add additional weight to our bodies, or destroy cells which in turn weakens our immunity and makes us targets for disease. This happens when we overload our body with excess sugar, excess saturated fat, or just excess food in general.
On the other hand, the problem that comes with vigorous everyday exercise regimes is that you are putting a lot of stress onto the body, the joints can weaken under constant pressure, the cardiovascular system can become over worked and the body & mind can suffer from fatigue. In the short-term, tiredness can lead to overeating to regain back that lost energy, and this can be counter productive against any weight loss efforts. In the long-term, flooding the body with too much adrenaline on a more-than-regular occurrence can wreak havoc with hormonal behaviour, which can lead to a weakened immune system & the tendency for our body to lay down fatty tissue in the abdominal region – not exactly what we want if we are trying to slim down!
Whilst I do enjoy a good sweaty workout once every so often, I’m not a particular hardcore gym-user. I would much prefer a long walk, a gentle swim or a session of yoga any day over some breathless, knee-crunching, 5 mile run on the treadmill. So, that is exactly what I do. I exercise in a way that is kind to my body, slowing down and resting on days when I feel like it, or picking up the pace when I am feeling like I have a lot of energy to burn.
On top of that, ensuring that you are eating well everyday, gives the mind a break from the vicious cycle thinking of “Oh crap, I’ve eaten one too many takeaways this week, better go run myself into the ground at the gym!…” So to sum up, I think that becoming mindful and aware of good nutrition is the key to weight loss – if you eat right in the first place you don’t need to cancel out poor food choices by exhausting energy depleting workouts at a later stage. Proper nutrition and regular gentle exercise (for example, walking, swimming, & yoga) is enough to keep the body fit & healthy, maintaining the right weight for your body.
Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions on exercise vs nutrition! I would love to hear from you.