EATING HEALTHY AND EXERCISE
Is it possible to have healthy eating habits and a good exercise plan? Do exercise and eating healthy go hand in hand?
Regular exercise and the consumption of a healthy diet can lead to a host of benefits, including increased energy, happiness, health and even a long life. Exercise and diet are pivotal to determining a person’s overall health, and making them both part of your lifestyle can make a dramatic difference in how you look and feel.
Build one or more favorite types of exercise into your life, gradually. Aim for 30-60 minutes of exercise every day.
Walking is great, because it’s easy to fit into your day. Leave the car behind sometimes or even get off the bus a stop or two early. Walk to the store, don’t drive – but make it brisk enough so that you feel slightly breathless – ambling along won’t cut it. If you can cover 2 miles a day, you’ll be doing great. Or get a pedometer and keep it strapped on. You’re aiming for 10,000 steps, which should include a burst of 4-6000 fast steps.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a healthy diet should consist of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean meats. On top of eating well, you must also minimize your consumption of cholesterol, sodium, sugar and saturated fat. In conjunction with regular exercise, a healthy diet can reduce your risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure and some cancers.
If you’re overweight, eating healthfully and exercising regularly can help you lose weight safely and keep it off. If you don’t have a weight problem, physical activity and a healthy diet can help you maintain your current weight and reduce your risk of gaining weight as you age. Healthy foods are generally lower in calories and higher in nutrients than other foods, and regular physical activity burns off extra calories to keep a healthy physique.
Try eating oat-based cereal for breakfast, before you walk, to give you slow-burning energy. Not sure how much weight you need to lose? Use the BMI Calculator to find out.
If jogging or running appeals to you, get into training gradually. You can harm yourself, if you go from no exercise to big, strenuous exercise, without working up to it.
Check out your local gym. Is there a running or jogging group you could join? Or do you have a friend or family member who’d like to share your quest for fitness? Exercise is much more fun with company. You’ll also need the right kit – get some proper trainers to support your ankles and protect your feet from impact, and some comfortable running clothes.
Drink water both before and after you exercise. Take a bottle of water with you on your run and drink at least 200 ml/1 cup water for every 15 minutes of exercise. Drink before you feel thirsty – don’t wait for a raging thirst before you have more water. Drinking water can help with weight loss.
Another really pleasurable form of exercise provided you have somewhere safe to cycle. Pedaling in city traffic isn’t such fun, but if there’s a nearby park or cycle way, get on your bike and explore.
Have a meal of pasta or rice before a bike ride, but don’t eat in the hour before you go out. Choose food that’s low in fat, and avoid very sugary foods. If you’re going on a long or very strenuous ride, take food with you to top up your energy – try bananas or other fresh fruit, or energy bars.
Going to the gym is a great way to exercise, but if you’ve tried it, you’ll know how hard it is to carry on going. To make it easier to stick with your gym routine: (1) Get some inspiration from the book Melt the Fat – I have found that it’s packed with helpful tips as well as exercise routines and healthy eating plans; (2) Go with a friend, and compete against each other on the equipment. Set goals, and keep a record of your progress. If possible, ask a personal trainer at the gym to set the goals with you, then you can report back every 3-4 weeks to measure your improvement; (3) find a good time to visit the gym and write it into your diary. Make it as much part of your routine as going to work or school; (4) Say ‘when I go to the gym, I’ll.’, not ‘If I go to the gym’. Success lies in your attitude! (5) Alter your gym routine to make it more interesting. One week use the bikes, next week the treadmills. Add some weights and stretches to your workout (this I have found to be particularly helpful); and (6) Find a class or group that you can join to add variety to your gym routine. Try aerobics, dance, circuit training, jogging, and badminton. These activities are as useful as ab crunches if you’re wondering how to lose the belly fat.
Have a piece of fresh fruit or a wholegrain snack before you go to the gym if you wish. It’s very easy to succumb to junk-bingeing after a workout, so be prepared. A banana and a glass of skimmed milk is a good quick snack if you can’t eat a meal straight away.
Try cooking double portions of healthy meals, so that you have a ready-made dish you can heat and eat as soon as you get back. Include complex carbs – that is wholegrain pasta, brown rice, potatoes or whole-meal bread, and some protein.
Add simple exercises into your daily routine at home. If you have a flight of stairs, you can use some stair exercises to improve your strength, power, balance and co-ordination. How? Simply walk up the stairs without holding the handrail. Walk back down, and repeat 10 times. If you think it’s too easy, try walking faster, until eventually you can run up those stairs. Walk back down to make sure you don’t trip. Make stair exercise even more effective by walking up two steps at a time. When that feels too easy, strap on some wrist and ankle weights to make it more intense.
If you’re combining eating healthy and exercise to lose weight, look at ways of making your favorite recipes healthier, so that you can still enjoy the foods you like best.
I have learned that a combination of working out and eating healthy foods can boost your energy level and help you feel more alert and aware, both mentally and physically. Healthy foods give your body the nutrients and vitamins it needs to function at its best.
Exercise stimulates brain chemicals that help produce feelings of happiness, contentment and relaxation, so you’ll feel better if you work out on a regular basis. Physical activity can also boost your physical appearance as you burn fat and build muscle, which is a significant factor in boosting self-confidence and inspiring a satisfied life.
Exercise and healthy eating can help make your life more diverse and interesting. Seek creative ways to be physically active in your daily life and don’t to stick with the same exercise routine all the time. Exercise with co-workers, go dancing with friends, play on a sports team and spend active time with your kids and family members. Following a healthy diet can also bring up opportunities for home cooking, culinary classes, farmers’ market visits and more fun activities.
KIDS AND EXERCISE
Should children get more exercise? It is necessary? With more and more children electing to play video games, watching far too much television and using other viral medium, it is more important than ever for them to have proper nutrition as well as do more exercise to help curb the tide of childhood obesity that is so prevalent today.
When most adults think about exercise, they imagine working out in the gym on a treadmill or lifting weights. But for kids, exercise means playing and being physically active. Kids exercise when they have gym class at school, during recess, at dance class or soccer practice, while riding bikes, or when playing tag. They need to do more away from school or other outside activities. These days, far too many children in the United States aren’t doing as well on fitness tests as children did in the past. Why is that? They would rather veg in front the TV, play video games or other less active things. This leads to a growing number of children that are showing signs of diabetes, heart disease and other types of health problems all of which can be linked to a lack of exercise.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture emphasizes that fitness matches good nutrition as an important factor for kids’ growth and development. Research has shown that kids who don’t exercise grow into adults with higher risks for heart disease and diabetes. The American Diabetes Association warns that a surprisingly large number of kids now develop Type II diabetes. The disease was once almost unknown in young people.
There are so many benefits of regular exercise. Regular exercise can help reduce a child’s risk for Type II diabetes. Fitness also helps kids to control blood pressure, develop muscle and bone strength, and improve heart function. Girls who exercise may reduce their risk for osteoporosis later in life. In addition, kids who begin to exercise generally see improvements in concentration, memory and classroom behavior.
Parents and guardians may assume that kids naturally get enough exercise. Some parents believe that school gym programs provide kids with enough fitness opportunities. This is such a misconception. When in reality, budget cuts at schools, shifting priorities and time considerations mean that most schools do not provide kids with the minimum recommended amount of daily physical activity. At home, TV and video games have replaced sports and games for many kids. The average high school student watches at least 4 hours of TV every day. Honestly, this is not a good idea.
According to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, children and teens need at least 60 minutes of activity every day. The hour can be broken into smaller sections to fit busy schedules. According to the council, less than one-fourth of high school students get the minimum amount of exercise.
Local parks, community centers and YMCAs often offer physical activities for kids. These programs provide a structured, safe environment for kids to exercise. They also allow parents an easy means to ensure that their children spend enough time on physical activities each day. The benefits of exercising when young can include a lifetime commitment to fitness. Let children choose sports or activities they enjoy and will continue. Kids are more likely to exercise when they see adults around them do the same. Good role models make a huge difference.
I feel that there are many benefits for everyone from regular exercise. Kids who are active will: (1) have stronger muscles and bones; (2) have a leaner body because exercise helps control body fat; (3) be less likely to become overweight; (4) decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes; (5) possibly lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels; and (6) have a better outlook on life. Besides enjoying the health benefits of regular exercise, kids who are physically fit sleep better and are better able to handle physical and emotional challenges — from running to catch a bus to studying for a test.
If you’ve ever watched kids on a playground, you’ve seen the three elements of fitness in action when they: (1) run away from the kid who’s “it” (endurance); (2) cross the monkey bars (strength); and (3) bend down to tie their shoes (flexibility).
All parents should encourage their kids to do a variety of activities so that they can work on all three elements. Endurance is developed when kids regularly engage in aerobic activity. During aerobic exercise, the heart beats faster and a person breathes harder. When done regularly and for extended periods of time, aerobic activity strengthens the heart and improves the body’s ability to deliver oxygen to all its cells.
Aerobic exercise can be fun for both adults and kids. Examples of aerobic activities include: (a) basketball; (b) bicycling; (c) ice-skating; (d) inline skating; (e) soccer; (f) swimming; (g) tennis; (h) walking; (i) jogging; and (j) running
Improving strength doesn’t have to mean lifting weights. Although some kids benefit from weightlifting, it should be done under the supervision of an experienced adult who works with them. But most kids don’t need a formal weight-training program to be strong. Push-ups, stomach crunches, pull-ups, and other exercises help tone and strengthen muscles. Kids also incorporate strength activities in their play when they climb, do a handstand, or wrestle.
Stretching exercises help improve flexibility, allowing muscles and joints to bend and move easily through their full range of motion. Kids look for opportunities every day to stretch when they try to get a toy just out of reach, practice a split, or do a cartwheel.
The percentage of overweight and obese kids and teens has more than doubled in the past 30 years. Although many factors contribute to this epidemic, children are becoming more sedentary. In other words, they’re sitting around a lot more than they used to.
One of the best ways to get kids to be more active is to limit the amount of time spent in sedentary activities, especially watching TV or playing video games. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends these limits on screen time: (a) kids under age 2 should watch no TV at all; and (2) kids older than 2 should be restricted to just 1-2 hours a day of quality programming (even if that means you or another responsible adult monitor what they are watching).
Parents should make sure that their kids get enough exercise. So, how much is enough? Kids and teens get 60 minutes or more of physical activity daily. Infants and young children should not be inactive for prolonged periods of time — no more than 1 hour unless they’re sleeping. And school-age children should not be inactive for periods longer than 2 hours.
Combining regular physical activity with a healthy diet is the key to a healthy lifestyle. Thankfully there many parents/guardians have started on this path. But it is just the beginning. There is still quite a lot that must be done.
Here are some tips for raising fit kids: (1) Help your kids participate in a variety of age-appropriate activities; (2) Establish a regular schedule for physical activity; (3) Incorporate activity into daily routines, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator; (4) Embrace a healthier lifestyle yourself, so you’ll be a positive role model for your family; and (5) Keep it fun, so you can count on your kids to come back for more.
Guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services say that children and adolescents age 6 and older need at least an hour a day of physical activity. Most of the hour should be either moderate or vigorous aerobic activity. In addition, children should participate in muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening activities at least three days a week.
Many classic activities — such as playing on playground equipment and jumping rope — cover all the bases at once. Organized sports are a great way to stay fit too. But team sports or dance classes aren’t the only options.
Get creative as you search for activities your child enjoys. If your child is artistically inclined, take a nature hike to collect leaves and rocks for use in a collage. If your child likes to climb, head for the nearest jungle gym. If your child likes to read, walk or bike to a local library for a book. Or simply turn on your child’s favorite music and dance in the living room.
Exercise with your child to better your own health while helping modeling for and stimulating your child to develop good exercise habits. Remember, incorporating physical activity into your child’s daily routine sets the foundation for a lifetime of fitness and good health.
PHYSICAL EXERCISE AND ITS BENEFITS
You know exercise is good for you, but do you know just how well? From boosting your mood to improving your sex life, find out how exercise can improve your life.
Want to feel better, have more energy and perhaps even live longer? Look no further than exercise. The health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are hard to ignore. And the benefits of exercise are yours for the taking, regardless of your age, sex or physical ability. Need more convincing to exercise?
Physical exercise is any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness. It is performed for various reasons including strengthening muscles and the cardiovascular system, honing athletic skills, weight loss or maintenance, as well as for the purpose of enjoyment. Frequent and regular physical exercise boosts the immune system, and helps prevent the “disease of affluence” such as heart disease, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and obesity. It also improves mental health, helps prevent depression, helps to promote or maintain positive self-esteem, and can even augment an individual’s sex appeal or body image, which is also found to be linked with higher levels of self-esteem. Childhood obesity is a growing global concern and physical exercise may help decrease some of the effects of childhood and adult obesity. Health care providers often call exercise the “miracle” or “wonder” drug—alluding to the wide variety of proven benefits that it provides.
Physical exercises are generally grouped into three types, depending on the overall effect they have on the human body: (a) Aerobic exercise is any physical activity that uses large muscle groups and causes your body to use more oxygen than it would while resting. The goal of aerobic exercise is to increase cardiovascular endurance. Some excellent ideas for aerobic exercise include cycling, swimming, brisk walking, skipping rope, rowing, hiking, playing tennis, continuous training and long slow distance training; (b) Anaerobic exercise is also called strength or Resistance training and can firm, strengthen, and tone your muscles, as well as improve bone strength, Balance and Coordination. Strength moves include pushups, lunges, and bicep curls using dumbbells. Anaerobic exercise also include weight training, functional training, eccentric training, Interval training, sprinting and high-intensity interval training increase short-term muscle strength; and (c) Flexibility exercises stretch and lengthen your muscles. Activities such as stretching help to improve joint flexibility and keep muscles limber. The goal is to improve the range of motion which can reduce the chance of injury.
Physical exercise can also include training that focuses on accuracy, agility, power and speed. Sometimes the terms ‘dynamic’ and ‘static’ are used. ‘Dynamic’ exercises such as steady running tend to produce a lowering of the diastolic blood pressure during exercise, due to the improved blood flow. Conversely, static exercise (such as weight-lifting) can cause the systolic pressure to rise significantly (during the exercise).
Physical exercise is important for maintaining physical fitness and can contribute positively to maintaining a healthy weight, building and maintaining healthy bone density, muscle strength, and joint mobility, promoting physiological well-being, reducing surgical risks, and strengthening the immune system. Developing research has demonstrated that many of the benefits of exercise are mediated through the role of skeletal muscle as an endocrine organ. That is, contracting muscles release multiple substances known as myokines which promote the growth of new tissue, tissue repair, and multiple anti-inflammatory functions, which in turn reduce the risk of developing various inflammatory diseases.
Exercise reduces levels of cortisol, which causes many health problems, both physical and mental. Conversely, exercise increases levels of saliva nitrite, which can be converted to the nitric oxide, thereby, increasing intensity and training load. Salvia testing for nitric oxide serves as a marker for training status.
Endurance exercise before meals lowers blood glucose more than the same exercise after meals.] According to the World Health Organization, lack of physical activity contributes to approximately 17% of heart disease and diabetes, 12% of falls in the elderly, and 10% of breast cancer and colon cancer.
Both aerobic and anaerobic exercise work to increase the mechanical efficiency of the heart by increasing cardiac volume (aerobic exercise), or myocardial thickness (strength training). Ventricular hypertrophy, the thickening of the ventricular walls, is generally beneficial and healthy if it occurs in response to exercise.
Not everyone benefits equally from exercise. There is tremendous variation in individual response to training; where most people will see a moderate increase in endurance from aerobic exercise, some individuals will as much as double their oxygen uptake, while others can never augment endurance. However, muscle hypertrophy from resistance training is primarily determined by diet and testosterone. This genetic variation in improvement from training is one of the key physiological differences between elite athletes and the larger population. Studies have shown that exercising in middle age leads to better physical ability later in life.
The beneficial effect of exercise on the cardiovascular system is well documented. There is a direct relation between physical inactivity and cardiovascular mortality, and physical inactivity is an independent risk factor for the development of coronary artery disease. There is a dose-response relation between the amount of exercise performed from approximately 700 to 2000 kcal of energy expenditure per week and all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease mortality in middle-aged and elderly populations. The greatest potential for reduced mortality is in the sedentary who become moderately active. Most beneficial effects of physical activity on cardiovascular disease mortality can be attained through moderate-intensity activity (40% to 60% of maximal oxygen uptake, depending on age). People who modify their behavior after myocardial infarction to include regular exercise have improved rates of survival. People who remain sedentary have the highest risk for all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality.
Although there have been hundreds of studies on exercise and the immune system, there is little direct evidence on its connection to illness. Epidemiological evidence suggests that moderate exercise has a beneficial effect on the human immune system; an effect which is modeled in a J curve. Moderate exercise has been associated with a 29% decreased incidence of upper respiratory tract infections (URTI), but studies of marathon runners found that their prolonged high-intensity exercise was associated with an increased risk of infection occurrence. However, another study did not find the effect. Immune cell functions are impaired following acute sessions of prolonged, high-intensity exercise, and some studies have found that athletes are at a higher risk for infections. The immune systems of athletes and non-athletes are generally similar. Athletes may have slightly elevated natural killer cell count and cytolytic action, but these are unlikely to be clinically significant. Vitamin C supplementation has been associated with lower incidence of URTIs in marathon runners.
Physical activity has been shown to be neuro-protective in many neurodegenerative and neuromuscular diseases. Evidence suggests that it reduces the risk of developing dementia. Physical activity and aerobic exercise in particular, enhances older adults’ cognitive function.
There are several possibilities for why exercise is beneficial for the brain. Examples are as follows: (a) increasing the blood and oxygen flow to the brain; (b) increasing growth factors that help neurogenesis and promote synaptic plasticity — possibly improving short and long term memory; and (c) increasing chemicals in the brain that help cognition, such as dopamine, glutamate, norepinephrine and serotonin. Physical activity is thought to have other beneficial effects related to cognition as it increases levels of nerve growth factors, which support the survival and growth of a number of neuronal cells.
A number of factors may contribute to depression including being overweight, low self-esteem, stress, and anxiety. Endorphins act as a natural pain reliever and antidepressant in the body. Endorphins have long been regarded as responsible for what is known as “runner’s high”, a euphoric feeling a person receives from intense physical exertion. However, recent research indicates that anandamide may possibly play a greater role than endorphins in “runner’s high”. When a person exercises, levels of both circulating serotonin and endorphins are increased. These levels are known to stay elevated even several days after exercise is discontinued, possibly contributing to improvement in mood, increased self-esteem, and weight management. Exercise alone is a potential prevention method and/or treatment for mild forms of depression. Research has also shown that when exercise is done in the presence of other people (familiar or not), it can be more effective in reducing stress than simply exercising alone.
Exercise generally improves sleep for most people, and helps sleep disorders such as insomnia. The optimum time to exercise may be 4 to 8 hours before bedtime, though exercise at any time of day is beneficial, with the possible exception of heavy exercise taken shortly before bedtime, which may disturb sleep. There is, in any case, insufficient evidence to draw detailed conclusions about the relationship between exercise and sleep. Exercise can be a healthy, safe and inexpensive way to achieve much better sleep.
Too much exercise can be harmful. Without proper rest, the chance of stroke or other circulation problems increases, and muscle tissue may develop slowly. Extremely intense, long-term cardiovascular exercise, as can be seen in athletes who train for multiple marathons, has been associated with scarring of the heart and heart rhythm abnormalities. Inappropriate exercise can do more harm than good, with the definition of “inappropriate” varying according to the individual. For many activities, especially running and cycling, there are significant injuries that occur with poorly regimented exercise schedules. Injuries from accidents also remain a major concern, whereas the effects of increased exposure to air pollution seem only a minor concern.
Stopping excessive exercise suddenly may create a change in mood. Feelings of depression and agitation can occur when withdrawal from the natural endorphins produced by exercise occurs. Exercise should be controlled by each body’s inherent limitations. While one set of joints and muscles may have the tolerance to withstand multiple marathons, another body may be damaged by 20 minutes of light jogging. This must be determined for each individual.
Worldwide there has been a large shift towards less physically demanding work. This has been accompanied by increasing use of mechanized transportation, a greater prevalence of labor saving technology in the home, and less active recreational pursuits. Personal lifestyle changes however can correct the lack of physical exercise.
Proper nutrition is as important to health as exercise. When exercising, it becomes even more important to have a good diet to ensure that the body has the correct ratio of macronutrients while providing ample micronutrients, in order to aid the body with the recovery process following strenuous exercise.
Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn. You don’t need to set aside large chunks of time for exercise to reap weight-loss benefits. If you can’t do an actual workout, get more active throughout the day in simple ways — by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or revving up your household chores.
Need an emotional lift? Or need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A workout at the gym or a brisk 30-minute walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem.
Do you feel too tired or too out of shape to enjoy physical intimacy? Regular physical activity can leave you feeling energized and looking better, which may have a positive effect on your sex life. But there’s more to it than that. Regular physical activity can lead to enhanced arousal for women. And men who exercise regularly are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than are men who don’t exercise.
Exercise and physical activity can be a fun way to spend some time. It gives you a chance to unwind, enjoy the outdoors or simply engage in activities that make you happy. Physical activity can also help you connect with family or friends in a fun social setting. So, take a dance class, hit the hiking trails or join a soccer team. Find a physical activity you enjoy, and just do it. If you get bored, try something new.
Exercise and physical activity are a great way to feel better, gain health benefits and have fun. As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more. Remember to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you haven’t exercised for a long time, have chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes or arthritis, or you have any concerns