Being good to your body can be hard work! After a long week, it is easier to sit on the couch and watch TV than to go for a walk. It is also much easier to pull through the drive-thru at your local fast-food restaurant, than to go home and eat a healthy meal. Perhaps this is why 34% of adolescents (ages 12-19) are overweight (Center for Disease Control, data from 2003-2006 research). According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), adolescents and adults who are overweight are more susceptible to the following health concerns; Coronary Heart Disease, Heart Attacks, Stroke, Diabetes, Cancer, Hypertension, Liver and Gallbladder Disease, Sleep Apnea and Respiratory Problems, Osteoarthritis and Gynecological Problems.
So what are the necessary steps you can take to avoid these problems and to make sure you are on the road to wellness? There are two different steps that you must take to ensure you are living a healthy lifestyle; a nutritional diet and regular exercise. A nutritional diet does not mean starving yourself or searching the internet for this week’s most popular diet. Instead, go back to the basics and refresh your memory with the Food Guide Pyramid (http://myplate.gov/). The pyramid provides an outline as to the different food groups that exist, and how many servings you need from each group per day.
The other key aspect of wellness is a steady dose of physical activity. The word “exercise” tends to make it sound like a chore, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead, think of it as a fun physical activity and it immediately sounds more enjoyable. The activity can be anything you want from walking to roller-blading, dancing, football or soccer with friends. The only necessity is that you get your body moving. Try and do thirty minutes of physical activity every day!
In addition to preventing the health concerns mentioned above, regular physical activity gives you strength, endurance, flexibility and a healthy heart and lungs. It can also help you think more clearly (having healthy habits can keep your mind sharp), feel better about yourself and relieve stress, anxiety and depression.
So if a healthy lifestyle can be achieved simply by a nutritional diet and thirty minutes of physical activity every day, why is obesity such a problem in the United States? Some people have more than likely developed the mindset that their schedule is too busy for exercise. As far as diet, often times people get into a routine of eating certain unhealthy things, and change is always difficult.
Unfortunately, your schedule is always going to be busy and it will not get any easier as you get older. So here are some helpful hints to incorporate aspects of wellness into your busy schedule:
1). If you don’t have thirty minutes for physical activity, break it up. How about ten minutes, three times per day.
2). Get active whenever your can; take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to the store instead of getting a ride, do some push-ups or sit-ups during television commercials; anything that keeps your body moving is a good thing.
3). Take a closer look at the fast-food menu. It is inevitable that you will find yourself in restaurants with plenty of greasy and unhealthy options. However, most restaurants now have a compliment of healthy choices. Think about what you are putting in your body and give the healthy ones a try.
4). Drink some water instead of soda. Water has lots of nutrients and helps the body digest food, excrete waste and regulate body temperature. You can start off slow, but try and get to eight glasses per day.
5). Balance your snacks. If you eat a snack that is not good for you, try and eat a healthy one next time around. Some examples of healthy snacks are apples, oranges, raisins or trail-mix.
6). Don’t expect to be perfect; it is unrealistic to expect that every meal you eat will be nutritious. Take small steps and remember to focus on moderation and progress, not perfection.