Pair Healthy Eating with Exercise for Optimal Longevity, Science Says

 

The science is in: if you want to live better, longer, and ward off disease down the road, you have to embrace both healthy eating and movement, not just one or the other.

The science is in: if you want to live better, longer, and ward off disease down the road, you have to embrace both healthy eating and movement, not just one or the other. Click To Tweet

According to new research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, physical activity alone is not an antidote to a poor diet. And, on the flip side of the coin, a high-quality diet by itself will not combat the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle.

Researchers from across the globe looked at health data from a whopping 350,000 people recorded in the UK Biobank, a collection of health information from people across Britain, and followed up over about a decade-long timeframe.

In regards to diet, The Times reported: “Experts broke people’s diets down by quality. For instance, 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’s criteria for a “high-quality” diet match the Blue Zones Food Guidelines, which were distilled from gleaning more than 150 dietary surveys of the world’s longest-lived people to discover the secrets of a longevity diet and reflect how the world’s longest-lived people ate for most of their lives. Click hеrе to download our free printable of the Blue Zones Food Guidelines so you can post it in your home as a daily reminder.

When it comes to activity level, researchers measured the “total minutes participants spent walking and engaging in moderate physical activity, like carrying light loads or biking at a steady pace, and vigorous physical activity that lasted more than 10 minutes at a time,” reported The Times

Ultimately, the scientists concluded: “When comparing across physical activity and diet combinations, the lowest risk combinations consistently included the higher levels of physical activity and the highest diet quality score. Adhering to both quality diet and sufficient physical activity is important for optimally reducing the risk of mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and diet and adiposity-related cancers.”

When comparing across physical activity and diet combinations, the lowest risk combinations consistently included the higher levels of physical activity and the highest diet quality score. Click To Tweet

The study’s findings reverberate Blue Zones’ holistic perspective on well-being: Based on our research of the longest-lived, healthiest people on Earth, the key to living better, and longer is embracing interconnected lifestyle habits. The Blue Zones Power 9® is a blueprint of the lifestyle characteristics of the populations on Earth who live the longest, healthiest lives. Diet and regular physical activity are two pillars of the Power 9, and this study highlights the symbiotic relationship between these two health-promoting lifestyle habits.

Diet and regular physical activity are two pillars of the Power 9, and this study highlights the symbiotic relationship between these two health-promoting lifestyle habits. Click To Tweet

The findings also jive with and add to two decades of Blue Zones research which suggests that supporting yourself into your golden years isn’t as simple as practicing any one lifestyle habit in isolation. The time is ripe to rethink the idea—or myth—that any singular lifestyle habit can, in isolation, unlock the secret to longevity. Notably, when it comes to diet and exercise, the latest research suggests the best approach is a more holistic approach. 

So, how do you do it? Embracing both diet and natural movement–the Blue Zones way–means not only thinking about healthy habits holistically but also setting up your surroundings to make the healthy choice the easy choice, on repeat.

Here are 5 easy, actionable ways to help you embrace diet and movement: 

  1. Plan a post-dinner walk, or “exercise snack”. Read more about exercise snacks— short, easy forms of exercise that give you similar benefits as longer, more sustained workouts—here
  2. When engaging in moderate physical activity—such as when heading out for a hike or a bike ride—pack a portable, post-workout snack such as a handful of nuts, an apple, a grab-n-go homemade treat (We enjoy these No-Bake Cranberry Nut Energy Bites), or a nutritious smoothie (Two to try: 1. Vegan Berry Protein Smoothie 2. Iced Banapple Turmeric Smoothie).
  3. Set up your kitchen for success by printing out the Blue Zones Food Guidelines or the Blue Zones Four Always, Four to Avoid foods and posting it on your refrigerator. 
  4. Print out our free Blue Zones MOVE Activity Cube and put it on your dinner table, on your desk, on the kitchen counter, or anywhere else where it’ll remind you to move more often and have fun while doing it. 
  5. Do some meal planning for the week so that grocery shopping is easy. You can also go full throttle and subscribe to the Blue Zones Meal Planner (get $20 off a yearly subscription with the code LONGEVITY20).

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