Author Dr. Mathieu Gayda, one of the study's authors and an exercise physiologist at the Montreal Heart Institute, said that each of these lifestyle interventions alone is known to have an impact, but no one has studied them together in a longer term.
He said that their results show that the combination of the two interventions supersized the benefits to heart health.
The study found an average reduction in waist circumference of eight centimeters, a reduction in systolic blood pressure of 6 mm Hg and an aerobic fitness improvement of 15 per cent over the first nine months of the study.
Improvements in waist circumference, blood pressure and fitness can lead to numerous other health benefits including a reduced risk of developing high blood pressure, as well as improving osteoarthritis symptoms, quality of life, physical functioning, and cognition.
On average, blood sugar levels also improved by 23 percent in participants with diabetes, while the improvement was approximately 10 per cent in individuals with pre-diabetes.
Dr. Anil Nigam, a preventive cardiologist at the Montreal Heart Institute said that in general, the sicker you are, the more you will benefit from the program.
He asserted that the greatest improvements in blood sugar levels were achieved in the individuals with diabetes, those who had the highest blood sugars.