A new study into middle aged fitness

•    Couch Potatoes Rejoice!

•    The Diet that’s Like A Treadmill on Your Plate

•    What to eat every week to boost your natural fitness


I’ll begin by stating the bleedin’ obvious. 


It used to be that I just loved its taste and the pleasure of eating it. 

And now I love it for that AND the way it heals disease and protects us from all kinds of later-life health problems. 

It’s why I began writing this newsletter! 

However, I must admit, I’m less into exercise. 

I mean, sure… I used to play rugby as a youth and I do love a long dog walk….  

But gyms, treadmills and aerobic workouts? 

Nah, they aren’t really for me. 

Same goes for lots of Good Lifer Letter readers. 

I know that you often groan when told “DO MORE EXERCISE” by beaming fitness gurus in tight Lycra, or finger-wagging doctors who don’t look like they spend much time in a gym themselves.  

It can feel like a lot of pressure, and you feel guilty for not matching up.  

Because the common wisdom we hear all the time is that running, jumping around and swimming every day is the best way to stay fit and lose weight. 

But is it really? 

If you are a bit of a couch potato, hate gyms, or dislike exercise, then you might be overjoyed to hear about this latest health story… 

The Diet that’s A Treadmill on Your Plate 

A new study, published in The European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, has revealed that adopting a Mediterranean-style diet is like strapping on your trainers and walking 4,000 extra steps a day.  

Yes, you heard that right.  

Pass the olives, please! 

The study looked at 2,380 people in their mid-50s.  

They underwent a battery of exercise tests to test fitness, and a dissection of their daily diet (126 food items quantified, no less).  

The scientists also factored in things like age, sex, daily energy intake, body mass index, smoking status, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, diabetes, and usual physical activity level.  

They discovered that a diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, legumes, fish and healthy fats gave them an uptick of 13 points on their health index score and a 5% greater peak VO2. 

(Peak VO2 is a term for the pinnacle of oxygen usage during exercise…. or in other words, ‘fitness’.) 

“This study provides some of the strongest and most rigorous data thus far to support the connection that better diets may lead to higher fitness,” said Dr. Michael Mi, a cardiologist at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston. 

He equated the fitness improvement from a healthier diet to the effect of doing 4,000 extra steps each day. 

That’s a lot, right?  

Just from EATING, too! 

It’s the kind of news I love to hear. 

By ‘healthier diet’, the researchers mean a Mediterranean one abundant in fresh, whole foods and home-cooked meals from scratch.  

In a practical sense, here’s how that might pan out… 

What to eat to boost your natural fitness 

Their advice is the following: 

  • Two servings of veg a day and three of fruit including leafy greens 


  • A daily handful of walnut, almonds and hazelnuts 


  • Three servings of oily fish per week 


  • Olive oil instead of vegetable oil 


  • White meat in preference to red meat and processed meats 


  • Minimised consumption of processed grains 


  • Low amounts of sugar-sweetened drinks 9water or milk being better 


  • One glass of red wine per day (but don’t take up drinking alcohol if you don’t already do it) 

That’s the recipe for boosting your fitness with delicious food instead of a hard-core run. 

I’m sure a bit of cheese, unsweetened yoghurt and mayo to ‘naughty’ up the dishes won’t do you too much harm. 

As I pointed out the other week, it’s the Ultra-Processed foods (UPFs) that you have to watch for. 

But before you decide to go FULL COUCH POTATO. 

A warning… 

Bear in mind, they’re not saying do NO exercise.  

Regular walking at a brisk pace will boost the effect of your healthier diet. 

Cardiorespiratory fitness, the body’s knack for supplying and using oxygen during exercise, reflects the health of multiple organ systems, like the heart, lungs, blood vessels and muscles. It’s the unsung hero of longevity and health, our researchers proclaim. 

And it seems that a decent diet will help this system operate much better! 

Which means you’ll get more out of the exercise you do, as well as getting a boost from food alone.  

However, next time you’re debating your evening meal choices, think upon this… 

A mouth-watering Mediterranean meal could be the equivalent of a brisk walk around the block or a spin on the treadmill.  

Bon appétit! 

(Just don’t forget to keep those trainers handy… just in case you do fancy that walk after all.) 

Yours as ever 

Ray Collins 

The Good Life Letter.