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The truth about exercise and eating junk food!

Blog post | 27 Oct 2022

There’s no denying the many health benefits of exercise. Scientists have proven it over and over. But running off the caramel slice that you ate for breakfast won’t work.

According to a study led by the University of Sydney, high levels of exercise won’t cancel the harmful effects a poor diet has on your health and risk of death.

The study showed that people who had high levels of physical activity and a high-quality diet, reduced their risk of death by 17% from all causes. As well, they reduced their risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 19% and certain cancers by 27%.

Associate Professor Melody Ding, lead author of the study, says, “Some people may think they could offset the impacts of a poor diet with high levels of exercise or offset the impacts of low physical activity with a high-quality diet, but the data shows that unfortunately this is not the case.

Both regular physical activity and a healthy diet play an important role in promoting health and longevity.   

Check out these tips on eating a high-quality diet and exercising according to Australian guidelines.

Calculate your energy needs

You should only eat and drink enough to meet your daily energy needs. Not sure how to work this out? Use an energy requirements calculator.

Start with veggies

Make it easier to hit the target of having 5 serves of vegetables a day by starting your morning with them. After that, eat them as snacks and pack them into your lunch and dinner.

Canned and frozen veggies count. Ensure the canned variety has no added salt.

Read the labels

Limit the amount of added salt and sugar you have in a day. Check the labels of the food you’re eating and drinking to ensure you stick to the daily limit.

ARE YOU AT RISK? — Are you at risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease or kidney disease? Use the Risk Checker to find out.

Do a fats check

Decipher the different fats and:

  • eat a moderate amount of food high in unsaturated fats, such as avocado, nuts, chia seeds and oily fish
  • limit food that contains saturated fats, such as meat, cakes, takeaway food and cooking margarine
  • avoid food that contains trans fats, such as deep-fried takeaway, doughnuts, pastries and cakes

Learn more about dietary fats.

Try porridge for brekky

Adults should have 4 to 6 serves of grains a day. But make them mostly wholegrain or high-cereal fibre. Think oats, quinoa, polenta and rye.

Eat more fish

Evidence suggests that Australians need to eat more fish. Fish provides you with protein, selenium, zinc, iodine, vitamins A and D (some fish only), and omega-3 — all important nutrients for healthy living. The bonus: fish is easy and quick to cook.

Say cheers without alcohol

Reduce or quit alcohol. There are several tips to manage your alcohol intake. Remember that there are no health benefits of alcohol. Enjoy some alcohol-free drinks next time you’re out with friends.

Be active every day

Get moving with at least half an hour of exercise every day of the week. Physical activity has health benefits for all ages. Find an activity that suits you, such as Pilates, cycling, running and swimming. Add strength training to the mix at least 2 times a week.

Don’t exercise? Learn how to start.

Find more information

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