Why Exercise Can't Make Up For An Unhealthy Diet

We all know about the benefits of exercise. It strengthens your muscles, slows loss of bone density, and combats high cholesterol and high blood pressure. It can help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. Boosting your physical activity improves your sleep, guards against depression, and can increase your lifespan. Your brain even benefits from it. Finally, with regular exercise, you can lose excess weight and keep it off, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

While exercise plays a key role in weight loss and weight management, calorie consumption is just as important. Hitting the gym after a night of binging on unhealthy snacks seems like a good solution for burning all those unwanted calories. But in order to offset your calorie intake, it could take much more time on the treadmill or lifting those weights than you imagine. According to Insider, indulging in a few slices of pizza, for example, would have you consuming close to 450 calories, and require 90 minutes walking or 43 minutes running to burn them off. And those potato chips? Just one snack-size packet contains about 170 calories, so you would need to spend 15-30 minutes more walking or running.

A poor diet leads to unwanted conditions

Even if you're not too worried about calories, a poor diet puts you at a higher risk of developing unwanted health conditions. According to the CDC, poor nutrition can lead to several harmful conditions, including heart disease, stroke, and cancer. When you choose unhealthy options, you're also increasing the risk of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes. 

On the other hand, a healthy diet, just like exercise, promotes good health. For one, it can help lower and maintain your blood pressure and diabetes. Eating nutritious foods can strengthen your bones and reduces your risk of cancer. And guess what? Eating a healthy diet can boost your mood, improve your memory, and help you sleep better (via Medical News Today).

The reality is you can't fix a bad diet with exercise alone. A healthy lifestyle involves both exercise and a nutritious diet, and "one cannot take care of the other," Dr. Deborah Rohm Young, chair of the Physical Activity Committee for the American Heart Associations' Council on Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health told the American Heart Association.