Simple steps to a healthy '99
Simple steps to a healthy '99
As the new year approaches, many of us resolve to become more healthy. Developing a positive attitude is an important, but often overlooked, first step to achieve this goal.
"Once you decide to take better care of yourself, the next steps are to adjust your daily physical activity and eating habits. Your goal here is to decrease the number of calories you consume and increase those calories you burn," said Janet Tietyen, assistant professor of food and nutrition with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.
"Improved quality of life is probably the most important, but least recognized, benefit of physical activity," she said. "People who exercise regularly have a positive outlook on life, more energy, and longer, healthier lives."
Making physical activity a daily habit also helps people lose excess weight, reducing the risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, certain types of cancer, and coronary heart disease, according to Tietyen.
"The extra pounds didn't appear over night so it will take some time to lose them," she said. "Those who manage their weight successfully are active people. While the positive effects of increased physical activity may seem to be gradual, the benefits are well worth the effort."
To enjoy the health benefits of physical activity, move around regularly for a minimum of 30 minutes at least five days of the week, Tietyen said. One way is to make physical activity part of your daily routine-- take the stairs instead of the elevators; park farther away from your destination, walk to the mailbox, clean house, or work in the yard.
"It's not necessary to engage in the 30 minutes of activity all at one time," Tietyen said. "In fact, many adults who are quite inactive should begin with small, less vigorous activities and increase the level gradually."
Strength training is a good addition to a physical activity pattern because it helps exchange muscle for fat, burns more calories, and makes people feel better. It's desirable to make strength training and more aerobic exercise a part of your physical activities.
Another important part of becoming more healthy is to examine your daily eating habits, according to Tietyen.
"As you look at these habits, be aware of calories as well as fat," she said. "Americans have decreased their daily fat intake by about six percent, yet they are consuming some 300 more calories each day.
"One reason might be that people mistakenly think they can eat unlimited amounts of foods that are low in fat, but don't realize they're consuming too many calories and too few vitamins and minerals. Make your calories count by choosing foods that contain nutrients like calcium and iron, vitamins A, C, and folate, and dietary fiber."
Tietyen gave these tips on developing more healthy eating habits.
* Make fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods a part of every meal. Also develop snacks around these food groups.
* Drink more water to generate a "full feeling" so you're less likely to feel hungry.
* Eat several small meals a day to maintain a more stable energy level.