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Study: Diet and Exercise Are Inseparable

Goodshoot/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- According to a new study, the best way to improve one's health is to start on a healthier diet and an exercise plan simultaneously.

While many find it easier to begin their health quest with just one or the other, the study from Stanford University found that altering one's diet and exercising more often are most effective when done at once.

The study, published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, analyzed data from 200 sedentary middle-aged men and women who were divided into four groups. One group began diet and exercise programs simultaneously, one began a diet plan and then exercise starting four months later, one began an exercise plan followed by a diet change four months later, and one only embarked on a stress management program. All four groups also received telephone counseling and education.

After 12 months, the group that made both changes at the same time was the most improved in all areas the study looked at, including exercising for at least 150 minutes per week, eating five to nine servings of vegetables per day and taking in 10 percent or less saturated fat per day.

Each of the other three groups failed at least one of the above areas.

The study did not, however, compare weight loss among the four groups.

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