One of the biggest problems today is lack of activity. We know it’s good for us but avoid it like the plague either because we’re used to being sedentary or afraid that exercise has to be vigorous to be worth our time. The truth is, movement is movement and the more you do, the healthier you’ll be. Even moderate activities like chores, gardening and walking can make a difference.
A study performed at Michigan State University found that most Americans do not do everything they can to lead a healthy lifestyle. Of the 153,000 adults, only 3% followed all four steps for a healthy lifestyle. These results illustrate the extraordinarily low prevalence of healthy lifestyles in the U.S. adult population.
An unhealthy lifestyle means more illness and more expense to treat those illnesses. This means a bigger burden on an already challenged healthcare system. Poor health also means more time lost at work, less quality recreational time, and even a shorter lifespan. Physical activity plays an important role in the health, well-being and quality of life of Canadians, and helps to prevent chronic diseases like cancer, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
There are four basic characteristics that are part of a healthy lifestyle:
- Being a non-smoker.
- Exercising 30 minutes or more five days per week.
- Eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
- Maintaining a healthy weight with a BMI under 25.
The good news is that all of these lifestyle changes are reversible and not at a great cost. The new guidelines suggest 150 minutes (or 2.5 hours) of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity a week for adults 18 and over and 60 minutes a day for children and youth, ages 5 to 17, to achieve measurable health benefits.
Eating a healthy diet is another part of the healthy lifestyle. Not only can a clean diet help with weight management, it can also improve your health and quality of life as you get older. Using the Food Guide Pyramid to determine how many calories you need and what food groups you should focus on.
The trick to healthy living is making small changes…taking more steps, adding fruit to your cereal, having an extra glass of water…these are just a few ways you can start living healthy without drastic changes. Getting a nutrition degree online is also an option for learning more about healthy food and living. The more we learn, the better we can eat. In addition to nutrition degrees, there is a masters degree in public health, which works to improve public health and prevent diseases through informed healthy choices.