Why your diet may not be working as well as you hoped (and how to fix it).

Many people follow a diet to lose weight, treat health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, or to feel “healthier.” Some of these diets are based on research (the DASH diet, Mediterranean diet, etc.) and others are simply trendy at the moment (the Paleo diet).

There is great debate about which diet is the best. Unfortunately, there are no good answers to that question. The good news is that almost all diets are good,  meaning that they are at least partially effective for improving some health measure. People do lose weight following even the most ridiculous diets, right?

It turns out that the diet is only one part of an effective strategy for weight loss or lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, or glucose. The other essential factor is  physical activity!

Regular exercise, or pretty much any activity, is important for several reasons. For a person trying to lose weight, exercise adds to weight loss and helps keep the weight off later. Nutritional interventions for diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are all more effective with exercise.

The idea that a diet is more effective when combined with exercise is the topic of my Health & Fitness column in the Aiken Standard this week.

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