A healthy diet and physically active lifestyle are primary ways to prevent chronic diseases and manage your weight. Despite this, The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports reports that only three in 10 adults get the recommended 30 minutes of physical activity per day. The Council goes on to note that approximately 108 million adults are overweight or obese, greatly increasing their risk for early death and health complications. Adopting a healthy and active lifestyle is a simple way to combat these problems.
Defining Healthy and Active Lifestyles
According to the United Stated Department of Agriculture, a healthy diet includes a variety of foods from the various food groups. A healthy diet includes at least 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables, 3 cups of dairy and 3 oz. of whole grains daily. Fish, poultry and vegetarian proteins should be eaten more often than red meat. Use unsaturated fats, such as olive or safflower oil, more than saturated fats for cooking, dressing and baking. A healthy diet also limits processed and fast foods high in added sugars, sodium and trans fats.
An active lifestyle involves getting the minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity daily, with up to 60 minutes necessary for weight maintenance or loss. Physical activity is equal to a brisk walk – an activity that gets your heart pumping and may cause you to break a light sweat. Gardening, swimming, hiking, jogging and dancing count as physical activity.
Eating healthy foods and getting the requisite amount of physical activity can help protect you against chronic diseases that may affect your quality of life and longevity. Heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and specific cancers are just a few of the diseases for which you can reduce your risk. An active lifestyle combined with healthy foods can also help you lower your cholesterol levels and blood pressure. If you are physically inactive, The President’s Council reports you are two times more likely to develop heart disease.
It is important to make an effort to be physically active, because over 80 percent of American jobs are sedentary in nature, reports the American Heart Association. Due to obesity, American companies lose $225.8 billion per year due to lost productivity -- not including the extra $460 to $2500 in monthly healthcare costs and sick days that obese people cost their employers. Obesity increases your risk of developing disease and can hurt your self-image. Being obese or overweight can also affect fertility. Being physically active may lead to weight loss and help to prevent these health issues.
Quality of Life
A person who does not live a healthy and active lifestyle is more likely to develop sleep apnea, respiratory problems, gallbladder disease and osteoarthritis -- all of which contribute to a diminished quality of life. An active lifestyle helps to reduce symptoms of stress and depression. Being active provides you with more energy to enjoy life with your family. It can also help improve your ability to simply function daily, especially as you age. A healthy lifestyle can improve your sleep patterns and your overall outlook on life.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; The Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity; February 2011
- American Heart Association; The Price of Inactivity; January 2011
- American Heart Association; Physical Activity Improves Quality of Life; January 2011
- The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports: Physical Activity Facts
- USDA: Play Hard Your Way
- American College of Sports Medicine; Physical Activity and Public Health Guidelines; 2007
- Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.