Physical fitness and health through exercise is one of the simplest and most effective ways of reducing blood glucose levels, cutting the risk of cardiovascular disease, and improve overall health and well being. However, in an increasingly sedentary world, where most essential tasks can be completed online, from the driver’s seat, or with a simple phone call, exercise can be a tough sell.
The reality is that everyone should do some form of exercise, yet surveys show that only a measly 30% of the adult US population gets the recommended 30 minutes of daily activity, while 25% are completely inactive.
One key factor in the surge of type 2 diabetes within America in recent years is thought to be from inactivity. Inactivity and obesity cause insulin resistance along with a myriad of factors that can trigger other types of diseases.
Fortunately, it is never too late to get active, and exercise is one of the most effective and easiest ways of battling the onset of diseases. Even for those who already have a serious disease of some kind, such as diabetes or heart failure, exercise and physical activity can still be beneficial for them by improving the conditions in parts of the body through insulin sensitivity, promoting weight loss and lowering the risk of heart disease.
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism published an article in 2003 about the results of their study, which found that the key factors behind obesity, diabetes and other serious diseases were lack of exercise and fitness. Therefore, physical fitness and health are extremely important for anyone in staying healthy and avoiding disease.
Getting Started – Physical Fitness and Health Tips
As with beginning any type of exercise plan, you will first want to consult with your physician or health care provider in order to evaluate your current health status. For instance, if you have any cardiac factors, your physician can perform a stress test to determine a “safe level” of exercise for you.
Discuss any medical conditions or disease that you currently have with your doctor. Certain complications of a disease may limit the type of exercise or activity that you can perform. For example, activities such as jogging, weight lifting or high-impact aerobics may pose a higher risk to those with diabetic retinopathy due to possible further blood vessel damage and even retinal detachment.
Patients with severe peripheral neuropathy (PN) should avoid foot intensive weight-bearing exercises including jogging, step aerobics, and long distance walking. Instead, opt for low impact exercises such as swimming, rowing or biking.
If you have any other conditions that make physical activity or exercise a challenge, consult with your health care provider who may refer you to an exercise physiologist, who can then create a fitness program catered to your needs.
If you are already exercising regularly or participate in some kind of physical activity consistently, then it would still be beneficial for you to discuss your routine with your doctor.
The bottom line to take away from this is that exercise and fitness don’t need to be high intensity, strenuous activities. Even something as simple as a brisk walk through the neighbourhood, taking stairs instead of elevators, and walking the dog more often would be highly beneficial. The key is to keep your body moving.
Physical Fitness and Health Through Healthy Eating
Lack of exercise is not the only contributing factor of poor physical fitness and health for Americans. Poor dietary habits are another major contributing factor and is one of the main reasons that people are obese or overweight, or even suffer from health risks.
Most people do not have a balanced enough diet everyday. In general, the most common imbalance is an inadequate consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains (as opposed to refined grains). Furthermore, some may be aware of what is required in a balanced diet, but they may have difficulties making the changes or adapting to them due to possible factors in work, stress or environment that are not conducive to healthy eating habits.
The good news is, despite having a busy schedule, it’s still possible to incorporate and maintain a natural foods diet if you are really willing to stick to it. Adapting a healthier diet is a lifestyle change, not something that happens overnight.
For starters, it helps to continually educate yourself about nutrition and the impact of different foods on your health. As always, making gradual changes is better than drastic ones. Here are some tips for healthier eating:
- Avoid Skipping Meals - Ideally, you should be eating 3 meals per day with snacks in between each. That way, you keep your metabolism going and you will be maintaining energy throughout the day as well. Whenever you skip a meal and get too hungry, you’re more likely to select foods that are not as healthy for you. If you eat away from home often, take some food or snacks with you or take note of where you can buy healthy food from.
- Learn About Preparing Your Own Foods - Rather than eating deep fried food, try grilling, stir frying, steaming, baking or boiling your food. Cooking your own food at home is often far more beneficial than buying already prepared foods or eating out. You can control the amount of sugar, salt, and fats that go into your food that way. There are millions of recipes out there and many of them are very simple. Experiment with different herbs and spices to achieve the flavor that you like. When preparing meats, be sure to trim off fat and skin.
- Avoid Sugar As Much As Possible - Soft drinks, juices and other sweet beverages are a major source of sugar that your body doesn’t need. Instead of drinking sugary beverages, drink water. If you must drink a flavored beverage, try making your own smoothies which at least contain fibre, won’t cause a huge insulin spike, and will keep you full for longer. Cut down on desserts whenever you can. You would be surprised at the amount of sugar contained in them.
- Have the Right Mindset About Healthy Eating - Healthy eating should not be seen as something that’s a chore and should never feel forced. There is the misconception that healthy foods are bland, boring and not tasty. This is far from the truth; there are a myriad of healthy recipes that taste delicious, if you give them a try. Instead of thinking of healthy eating as some sort of “diet,” you should think of it as a lifestyle change. Focus on making the “shift” in your dietary habits (ie. going from refined grains to whole grains).