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What Physical Activity Can Do For You
If you think you're too tired or busy to exercise, then maybe you should think about these three things:
Regular physical activity improves your mental health. You know how you feel at the end of a long day of work, a long day with the kids, or in a traffic jam. But you can let go of all that stress and frustration by exercising! When you're done exercising you will have a sense of well-being. Better yet, you will sleep better, lower your chances of depression and anxiety, and improve your problem-solving skills.
Regular physical activity improves your overall health. Because you will have less body fat, more muscle, and better cardiovascular health, you will be less likely to develop heart disease and some forms of cancer. You also will have a stronger immune system and strong bones. This all means a longer, healthier life.
You don't have to be as fit as a professional athlete to benefit from physical activity. In fact, 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week can greatly improve your health.
Steps You Can Take to Get Moving
Stay motivated by choosing an activity that's fun.
Change your activities, so you don't get bored.
Doing yard work may not be fun, but it does get you moving! So does walking the dog and housework!
If you can't set aside one block of time, do short activities during the day, such as three, 10-minute walks.
Create opportunities for activity, such as parking your car farther away, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or walking down the hall to talk to a coworker instead of using e-mail.
Don't let the cold weather keep you on the couch! You can still find activities to do in the winter like exercising to a workout video or joining a sports league or gym.
Use different jogging, walking, or biking paths to vary your routine.
Exercise with a friend or family member.
If you have children, make time to play with them outside. Set a positive example!
Make activities into social occasions-have dinner after you and a friend work out.
Read books or magazines to inspire you.
Set specific, short-term goals, and reward yourself when you achieve them.
Don't feel badly if you don't notice body changes right away.
Make your activity a regular part of your day, so it becomes a habit.
Build a community group to form walking clubs, build walking trails, start exercise classes, and organize special events to promote physical activity.
|Talk to your health care provider before you start any physical
activity if you:
Having a healthy diet is sometimes easier said than done. Between work or school, and family you are probably balancing a hundred things at once. Having a healthy meal sometimes falls last on your list. But you should know that it isn't hard to make simple changes to improve your diet. A little learning and planning can help you find a diet to fit your lifestyle.
Why Have a Healthy Diet?
Obesity in Americans is on the rise. About 35 percent of us weigh more than we should for good health. Obesity is measured with a body mass index (BMI), which shows the relationship of weight to height. (Click here to figure out your BMI). As your body mass increases, so does your risk for serious health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, and some cancers. Your body mass is affected by how much physical activity you do, your diet, and your genes. So having a healthy diet is one of the most important things you can do to help your overall health. If you burn as many calories as you take in, your weight remains the same. If you take in fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight. So make sure the foods you eat are healthy ones that will work hard for your body.
Basic Steps to a Healthy Diet
There are some basic steps to good nutrition that you can easily build into your lifestyle. It doesn't hurt that these steps also help you reduce your risk for heart disease - the #1 killer of men. You can do this by having a diet that:
helps you either lose weight or keeps your body mass index (BMI) in the "healthy" range
is balanced overall, with foods from all groups, with lots of delicious fruits, vegetables, and grains
is low in saturated fat and trans fat, and moderate in total fat intake (less than 10 percent of your daily calories should come from saturated fat, and less than 30 percent of your daily calories should come from total fat). Foods low in saturated fat include fruits, vegetables, whole grain foods, and low-fat or nonfat dairy products. Try to avoid commercially fried and baked goods such as crackers and cookies. A moderate total fat intake means that you don't have to eliminate all fat from your diet! A diet moderate in total fat will give you enough calories to satisfy your hunger, which can help you to eat fewer calories, stay at a healthy weight, and lower your blood cholesterol level. To keep your total fat intake moderate, try to substitute unsaturated fat for saturated fat.
is low in cholesterol. Try to eat fruit, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or nonfat dairy products, and moderate amounts of lean meats, skinless poultry, and fish. Eat plenty of soluble fiber, which may help lower your LDL ("bad") blood cholesterol. Good sources are oat bran, oatmeal, beans, peas, rice bran, barley, citrus fruits, and strawberries. Insoluble fiber will not help your blood cholesterol level but is still good for healthy bowel function. Good sources of insoluble fiber are whole wheat breads, kidney beans, almonds, beets, carrots, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, and apple skin.
includes a variety of grains daily, especially whole grains, a good source of fiber.
includes enough fruits and vegetables (a variety of each, five to nine servings each day).
has a small number of calories from added sugars (like in candy, cookies, and cakes).
has foods prepared with less sodium or salt (aim for no more than 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day, or about one teaspoon of salt per day for a healthy heart). You can choose low-sodium foods, which will also help lower your cholesterol, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or nonfat dairy products, and moderate amounts of lean meat. To flavor your food, reach for herbs and spices rather than high-sodium table salt. Be sure to read the labels of seasoning mixes because some contain salt.
if you drink alcoholic beverages, does not include more than two drinks per day (one drink per day for women).
if you want to improve your heart health, includes at least two servings of fish per week (especially fatty fish like salmon and lake trout) because they are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which may help lower blood cholesterol. You also can eat omega-3 fatty acids from plant sources, such as from tofu, soybeans, canola, walnuts, and flaxseed (these contain alpha-linolenic acid, a less potent form of omega-3 fatty acid).
Know Your Fats
There are different kinds of fats in our foods. Some can hurt our health, while others aren't so bad! Some are even good for you! Here's what you need to know:
Monounsaturated fats (canola, olive and peanut oils, and avocados) and polyunsaturated fats (safflower, sesame, sunflower seeds, and many other nuts and seeds) don't raise your LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels but can raise your HDL ("good") cholesterol levels. To keep healthy, it is best to choose foods with these fats.
Saturated fat, trans fatty acids, and dietary cholesterol raise your LDL ("bad") blood cholesterol levels, which can lead to heart disease. Saturated fat is found mostly in food from animals, like beef, veal, lamb, pork, lard, poultry fat, butter, cream, whole milk dairy products, cheeses, and from some plants, such as tropical oils. Tropical oils include coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils that are found in commercial cakes, cookies, and salty snack foods. Unlike other plant oils, these oils have a lot of saturated fatty acids. Some processed foods (such as frozen dinners and canned foods) can be quite high in saturated fat-it' s best to check package labels before purchasing these types of foods.
Trans fatty acids (TFAs) are formed during the process of making cooking oils, margarine, and shortening and are in commercially fried foods, baked goods, cookies, and crackers. Some are naturally found in small amounts in some animal products, such as beef, pork, lamb, and the butterfat in butter and milk. In studies, TFAs tend to raise our total blood cholesterol. TFAs also tend to raise LDL ("bad") cholesterol and lower HDL ("good") cholesterol. At this time, TFAs are not listed on nutrition labels, but that will soon change. Although it might take a couple of years to begin seeing it, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now asking food manufacturers to begin labeling TFA content. And some food manufacturers are announcing they are taking TFAs out of their food.
Sizes for everything from bananas to soft drinks have gotten larger in the past 20 years. It's not enough to eat the right kinds of food to maintain a healthy weight or to lose weight. Eating the right amount of food at each meal is just as important. If you are a healthy eater, it is possible to sabotage your efforts by eating more than the recommended amount of food. A serving is a specific amount of food, and it might be smaller than you realize. Here are some examples:
A serving of meat (boneless, cooked weight) is two to three ounces, or roughly the size of the palm of your hand, a deck of cards, or an audiocassette tape.
A serving of chopped vegetables or fruit is 1/2 cup, or approximately half a baseball or a rounded handful.
A serving of fresh fruit is one medium piece, or the size of a baseball.
A serving of cooked pasta, rice, or cereal is 1/2 cup, or half a baseball or a rounded handful.
A serving of cooked beans is 1/2 cup, or half a baseball or a rounded handful.
A serving of nuts is 1/3 cup, or a level handful for an average adult.
A serving of peanut butter is two tablespoons, about the size of a golf ball.
No matter which diet you choose, be sure to talk with your health care provider first, before starting any type of eating plan. You might want to ask your provider for a referral to a registered dietician (RD) who can help you. You might also want to enlist the help of a family member or friend to give you support and help you stay on track. Try to have some fun learning new recipes and different ways to cook!
|Making Sense of Nutrition Terms
We see these terms all the time, but what do they mean?
(These definitions are based on one serving of a food. If you eat more than one serving, you will go over these levels of calories, fat, cholesterol, and sodium.)
fewer than 5 calories