The people who started with exercise first and diet changes a few months later also did a good job of meeting both the exercise and diet goals, but not quite as good as those who made exercise and diet changes at the same time, the Stanford University School of Medicine researchers said in a news release from Stanford.
The participants who made diet changes first and started exercise later did a good job of meeting the dietary goals but didn’t meet their exercise targets. This may be because each type of change has unique characteristics, explained study author Abby King, a professor of health research and policy and of medicine.
“With dietary habits, you have no choice; you have to eat. You don’t have to find extra time to eat because it’s already in your schedule. So the focus is more on substituting the right kinds of food to eat,” she said in the news release.
However, people with busy schedules may have difficulty finding time for exercise. King noted that even the people in the most successful group (diet and exercise changes at the same time) initially had trouble meeting their exercise goal, but did achieve it by the end of the study.
The study was published online April 21 in the journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine.