Diet and exercise do more than just slim your figure. The dynamic duo also offers additional health benefits, such as lowered blood pressure and cholesterol levels, according to a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, reported by HealthDay News.

For the study, University of Wyoming researchers divided 36 overweight men and women (average age 39) into three groups. Group one reduced calories by 25 percent; group two cut calories by about 12.5 percent and exercised to boost energy output; and group three remained on a weight-maintenance diet.

At the end of the study, groups one and two lost about 10 percent of their body weight (an average of 17 pounds).  

But researchers found that weight loss wasn’t the only health benefit realized. Group two participants, who dieted and exercised, also had improved blood pressure and cholesterol levels in addition to better insulin sensitivity.

“It’s not surprising at all,” said Enette Larson-Meyer, MD, study author and an assistant professor of family and consumer science at the University of Wyoming. “They definitely work together.”

“I think it finally proves what we have been saying for a long time,” said Walt Thompson, PhD, a professor of kinesiology at Georgia State University. “Effective weight-loss programs have to include diet and exercise.”

Experts recommend you ask a professional to help you choose the best calorie-cutting diet and workout regimen for you.

Read how diet and exercise changed past American Idol winner Ruben Studdard’s life.