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Exercise vs Good Diet - Which Is More Important for Keeping Healthy?

24 May 2022

Oftentimes, when we think about exercise or a healthy diet, we think of them as separate entities. People tend to view these two pillars of staying healthy as one versus the other. However, that should never be the case.

While a person may go on about how a healthy diet means there is no need for exercise or exercise means there is no need for a healthy diet, this just is not true. It is a terrible thought process that sets someone up for failure in the long run.

Maintaining a healthy diet may seem like the obvious choice when deciding whether diet or exercise is the best way to stay healthy. However, without exercise, your healthy diet is nowhere near as effective. Also, you must be careful when developing your healthy diet, as fad diets are not sustainable and can easily lead to an unhealthy lifestyle and even worse - eating disorders.

In this article, we will take a look at the pros of having a great diet and exercising. Keep reading to learn more.

Pros of a Good Diet

A good diet provides you with an easy way to manage your calorie intake. You can adjust which foods you are eating as needed and burn any leftover calories through exercise.

This is where the 80/20 rule comes into play. Around 80% of your healthy lifestyle should be focused on what you are consuming, and the other 20% should be centered around exercise.

For example, if you were aiming to reduce your intake by about 500 calories per day, you would want to adjust what you eat to be 400 calories less than what you would normally consume. Then, you would burn the final 100 calories off through exercise.

Maintaining your health this way is much easier than trying to constantly burn around 500 calories through exercise each day. It would require a ton of movement to do that. Exercising that much would also be time-consuming, taxing on your body, and fairly unsustainable in the long run.

Your diet should be focused on whole and minimally processed foods, as these will provide the most nutritious benefits to your body. A healthy diet is high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats.

Pros of Exercising

Cardio is great for increasing endurance and improving the health of your heart and oxygen flow in your blood. Strength training can preserve and build muscles while increasing your metabolic rate, which allows you to burn more calories throughout the day. A single session of strength training increases a person’s metabolic rate for up to 72 hours.

Aerobic exercise, which is cardio, will also burn a significant number of calories. However, this will happen during the session instead of after. If you do a low to moderate cardio workout for 30 minutes or more, you will see beneficial results for your health.

Regular exercise overall can help manage hunger by regulating the hormones that cause hunger. This helps prevent things like overeating and excessive snacking.

With that being said, excessive exercise can actually increase your appetite along with your risk of injury. There always needs to be a balance when focusing on long-term health goals.

Burning extra calories and an increase in metabolic rate allows you to choose a healthy diet that is more flexible and less restrictive. This way, you can continue to eat your comfort foods while still staying healthy.

Why Not Choose Both?

Choosing a combination of exercise and a healthy diet is the best option when trying to keep healthy for the long term. While the 80/20 rule mentioned above is very helpful, it is not a law. You do not have to follow it if you do not want to, as long as you are incorporating both a healthy diet and exercise into your routine.

Focus on positive changes to your diet that reinforce healthy eating habits. Also, concentrate on exercise types that are suitable for you. If you do not like doing a certain type of exercise, such as pull-ups, then choose something else that you do enjoy to take their place.

A 50/50 split between a healthy diet and exercise is just as good for the long run. You can manage your calorie intake while burning away any extra calories through exercise as needed.

Healthy, long-term fitness heavily relies on both a proper diet and daily exercise. To keep healthy in a meaningful and sustainable way, you should add both to your routine.


While both exercise and a healthy diet are great individually, the combination of both is the key to sustainably keeping healthy in the long run. One without the other is a breeding ground for failure.

A healthy diet is important to maintain proper nutrition and calorie intake. It also improves energy, emotional health, and physical health.

Exercise is great for improving endurance and building muscle. It also increases your body’s metabolic rate and improves physical and mental health.