THURSDAY, March 3, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Six short weeks is all it may take for simple changes in diet and exercise to start making dramatic reductions in risk for killer illnesses like diabetes, cancer or heart disease, researchers report.
"Although the notion that proper nutrition and exercise is good for you is not revolutionary, it's important that people know that major health benefits can come quickly," researcher Steven Aldana, a Brigham Young University professor of exercise science, said in a prepared statement.
In his team's study, 337 volunteers -- all residents of Illinois and ranging from 43 to 81 years of age -- participated in a 40-hour educational course over four weeks. Administered by the SwedishAmerican Health System, the Coronary Health Improvement Project lectures touted the importance of healthy lifestyle choices.
People experienced significant reductions in body fat, cholesterol levels and blood pressure when they spent just 30 minutes a day on cardiovascular exercise and adopted a diet emphasizing unrefined foods like grains, legumes and fresh fruits and vegetables, Aldana reported.
"This is not a diet, not a trend, not a fad that will go away," he said. "It's adopting a nutritious way of eating and exercise that causes very important positive changes in your body's health in a short period of time."
The study appears in the Feb. 28 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
The American Heart Association has more about healthy lifestyle.