Exerise OR Diet?

It’s certainly not the first time I’ve addressed this question, but it just came across my desk again yesterday:

Hey Steph,

I need to crowd-source an expert opinion on a discussion I was having recently, and thought you might be the perfect person to provide just a sentence or two of judgment.

Scientifically speaking, which has a more important and more definitive impact on long-term physical and mental health: exercise or diet? Put differently, which population would live a healthier life longer: perfect diet + totally sedentary lifestyle, or perfect exercise regimen + donuts, bacon and soda diet? Also, is science clear about the answer, or is there a lot of room for debate?

I’m not looking for citations or a nuanced explanation, just a few words that summarize your total view. 


How would you respond?

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