Study Confirms That No Amount Of Exercise Can Offset An Unhealthy Diet And Vice Versa - Save Our Bones

The study we'll examine today confirms that the diet and exercise recommendations of the Osteoporosis Reversal Program have been correct all along.

We'll look at the details from this research, which studied how diet and exercise work in combination to impact longevity.

Then you'll learn how this data supports the Save Institute's advice for living a longer, stronger, healthier life.

A Study On Diet, Exercise, And Lifespan

A new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine analyzed data from 346,627 participants. Researchers at the University of Sydney looked at participants' self-reported exercise and dietary habits over the course of 11 years. They also tracked mortality among the participants.

For the dietary assessment, they applied a dietary quality index. And the exercise reports included minutes per week and the level of vigorousness.

The researchers compared each participants' diet and exercise habits to their mortality outcomes to see how those variables impacted participants' likelihood of early death. Notably, they examined diet and exericise both separately and in combination to assess whether healthy eating could make up for poor exercise habits, or vice versa.1


Researchers examined exercise, diet, and mortality data from 346,627 study participants. They used this data to assess the relationship between diet, exercise, and the likelihood of early death.

How A Healthy Diet And Physical Activity Impact Longevity

When the researchers looked at diet or exercise independently they found the pattern you might expect. Participants who ate a higher-quality diet were likely to have lived longer than those who ate a low-quality diet. Participants who got more– and more vigorous– physical activity were likely to live longer than those who got less.1

When the researchers compared the different possible combinations of physical activity levels and diets, they found that the lowest risk combinations consistently were comprised of higher levels of physical activity and the highest diet quality score. Notably, the lowest risk level wasn't consistently achieved by either factor in isolation.1

In a press release, lead study author Melody Ding summed up their findings with the following statement:

“Both regular physical activity and a healthy diet play an important role in promoting health and longevity… 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.”2


The researchers found that participants with high-quality diets lived longer than those with low-quality diets. Participants who got more exercise lived longer than those who got less exercise. But neither factor offset the impact of a low score on the other factor– to achieve the lowest risk of mortality, participants had to have a high-quality diet and high levels of exercise.

The Diet And Exercise Habits That Reduced The Risk Of Early Death

This study looked at the health impacts of two behaviors: eating and exercising. The researchers used a fairly broad approach to assess the participants' diet and exercise.

Each participant's diet quality was scored on a scale of zero to three, based on how many of the following three metrics they met. They defined a high-quality diet as meeting all three:

  • Eating at least four and a half cups of fruits and vegetables per day
  • Eating at least two servings of fish per week
  • Eating processed meat no more than two times per week and eating red meat no more than five times per week

To assess physical activity, the researchers used physical activity questionnaires that participants filled out. The researchers then considered the minutes per week of walking, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, and high-intensity vigorous physical activity reported by each participant.

The researchers then divided participants into four quartiles, based on how much activity they completed and how intense it was. They found that more– and more vigorous– exercise correlated to a longer life.

Critically, this research also examined the relationship between diet and exercise. They found that an excellent diet did not offset the risks of physical inactivity. The opposite was also true: no amount of physical activity erased the increased mortality risk caused by a low-quality diet.1


The researchers defined a high-quality diet as including at least four and a half cups of fruits and vegetables per week, at least two servings of fish per week, and no more than two meals including processed meat, and no more than five meals including red meat. They ranked participants' physical activity levels by minutes per week and vigorousness. The participants with the lowest risk of death had the highest diet quality score and the highest exercise levels. Notably, a high score on one factor didn't make up for a low score on the other.

How This Study's Findings Compare To The Osteoporosis Reversal Program

The Save Institute also looks to diet and exercise as the foundation of good health. This study's findings fit well within the recommendations of the Osteoporosis Reversal Program (ORP).

The ORP's 80/20 pH balanced diet uses a simple rule that automatically ensures your diet could meet the highest score on this diet-quality index. By visually assessing that each meal you eat is roughly 80% alkalizing foods and 20% acidifying foods, you'll naturally eat plenty of fruits and veggies. If you choose fish over meat for the 20% of acidifying foods– (or get the healthy fatty acids and protein found in fish from non-animal sources) then this metric becomes very easy to meet.

The weight-bearing exercise and physical activity habits outlined in the Osteoporosis Reversal Program are an easy way to ensure that you are getting enough physical activity. Plus, the exercises and activities recommended by the Save Institute are designed to help you build bone.

It's refreshing to see research that considers the interaction of different factors– since that complexity is more reflective of reality than studying a single factor in isolation. This more holistic view of how diet and exercise interact is closer to the approach of the Save Institute.

Furthermore, the results of the study confirm what the Save Institute has been recommending for the past fifteen years.

And as Savers know, simple lifestyle changes can also transform the quality of your bones. An 80/20 pH-balanced diet is an elegant tool for providing your body with everything it needs to build strong bones. Simultaneously, it prevents the acidification and subsequent bone loss inflicted by typical unbalanced Western diets.

Regular practice of weight-bearing exercise capitalizes on the potential of the 80/20 diet. That's because the exertion of weight-bearing physical activity triggers the construction of new bone. The result is stronger bones that are less likely to break.

These bone benefits are not simply an addition to the benefit of an extended life– they are part of why people who live this way live longer. Fragility and fracture increase the risk of untimely death. So the bone benefits of a healthy diet and regular exercise also translate into reduced mortality risk.


The results of this study reinforce and affirm what the Save Institute has been recommending for the past fifteen years. Diet and exercise must be used together to increase health and build stronger bones. The Osteoporosis Reversal Program's holistic approach to improving bone quality has accounted for this complexity from day one.

What This Means To You

Our health outcomes reflect the sum of our actions. It isn't enough to only eat well, or only exercise. As the Osteoporosis Reversal Program has held true for a decade and a half– supported by copious and growing evidence– we must combine regular exercise and a balanced diet to live our fullest and healthiest lives.

We are so confident in the simplicity and effectiveness of the ORP that we offer a 60-day money-back guarantee. If the Program isn't meeting your expectations, simply let us know and you’ll get a full refund, no questions asked. That means you can start today, risk-free.

Eat well by following the Save Institute's 80/20 pH-balanced diet. And stay physically active every day. The result will be stronger bones, better health, and a longer life.




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Comments on this article are closed.

  1. Sylvia Prys Jones

    Is this advice relevant to someone like me with osteoporosis caused/exacerbated by primary hyperparathyroidism? Thank you Sylvia Prys Jones

    • Save Institute Customer Support

      Dear Sylvia,

      We’re happy to answer your question, so please check your email inbox within the next 24-48 hours.

      In excellent health,
      Customer Support

  2. Carla

    Thanks for bringing up this important topic Vivian. This study makes a lot of sense. I’m a nurse and I often treat people who eat healthy but are couch potatoes, and they have high blood pressure and cholesterol, and other conditions. And people who exercise and eat junk also.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You’re very welcome, Carla!

  3. Andrea

    Thanks for yet another informative article, Vivian! I’ve been following Save Your Bones for many years now and my bones are strong and went from osteoporosis to osteopinia. And my doctor stopped finally telling me to take drugs. I’m very thankful!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You’re very welcome, Andrea! I’m proud of you, and you should be too 🙂

  4. Patty Pefferman

    Just got an osteoporosis diagnosis yesterday.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      I hope that you will take the necessary steps to improve your bone health without taking dangerous osteoporosis drugs, Patty. And don’t let your doctor scare you. Remember: you’re in charge of your health and you should follow what you think is best for you.

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