Needless to say, what we eat and the amount of exercise we get every day has a huge impact on our overall health and well-being. While we all know this, it can sometimes be a challenge to find out how much is enough when it comes to exercise and how much is too much when it comes to food.
GET MOVING According to the American Heart Association (AHA), about 65 percent of all adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese. There are many reasons for this statistic, which is still rising, but certainly one of the most important is the overwhelming number of people who have a sedentary lifestyle.
The AHA reports that sedentary jobs have increased by 83 percent since 1950, which means the average American has to make time for physical activity. Another factor is that we are working longer hours than previous generations. These two factors are contributors to a growing problem. We work more in desk-bound jobs and have less time after work to get active.
While it seems we’re all fighting an up-hill battle for health in a culture that can make it seem impossible to squeeze in, physical activity has too many benefits to ignore.
Caption for BMI Chart: Use this chart to find out your Body Mass Index (BMI) to determine if you are in the normal range for weight and height. This is the first step to assessing your fitness needs and health risk factors. Source: The Surgeon General’s Call To Action To Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity, 2001, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
COUNTING CALORIES So how much is too much food? This is a question many of us ask every day. There seems to be a delicate balance between just right and over-doing it, and it can be very difficult to keep track.
To determine if you need to shed some pounds or if you are within the healthy range, check your Ideal Body Weight using the chart below. Once you have determined your ideal weight, you can use the daily calorie chart below to determine how many calories you should be eating in a day. According to the AHA, lowering your daily calorie intake by 500 can result in a 1-pound weight loss per week, which is considered a healthy rate. So, to lose weight, you either need to subtract 500 calories from your daily caloric needs or, more ideally, subtract about 300 calories and plan to exercise enough to burn about 200 calories a day.
MIND AND BODY There are countless ways that an active lifestyle can benefit our bodies, but we can’t forget about the ways that it can benefit our minds as well. Exercise is one of the most effective stress and anxiety relievers and can dramatically affect your mood.
Not only will getting in better shape give you a boost of self-confidence, but it also releases a flood of endorphins that improve overall mood. The increased oxygen levels that come with and after physical activity can also have effects on the brain, and can improve mental acuity and memory, according to the AHA.
We often think of exercise as improving our muscles more so than our bones, but our bones and joints can see just as many benefits. Increased bone density and strength is just one of the many. Dr. Sandra Powers, of Southwest Spine Center, said she and her staff typically recommend a home exercise program to their patients because, when exercise is properly performed at the appropriate level, it enhances and strengthens bones and joints.
“The act of movement, improving flexibility and strengthening core muscles helps the body and spine in many ways,” she said. “The words “move it or lose it” couldn’t be truer for the human body. Poor posture, poor disc health, pain, stiffness and numbness are all symptoms that can be associated with a sedentary lifestyle.”
Dr. Powers said the best things we can do for our bodies to keep them in peak condition is to get regular chiropractic adjustments and massages and to exercise – especially core exercise like yoga and Pilates.
“When the spine is aligned properly, the nerves can do their job without interference,” she said. “It is amazing how smart the body is and what it can accomplish when you give it all the necessary tools.”
(Graphics ‘IdealBodyWeight1’ ‘IdealBodyWeight2’)
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Caption for Calorie Chart: *Calorie levels are based on the Estimated Energy Requirements (EER) and activity levels from the Institute of Medicine Dietary Reference Intakes Macronutrients Report, 2002.
SEDENTARY = less than 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity in addition to daily activities.
MOD. ACTIVE = at least 30 minutes up to 60 minutes a day of moderate physical activity in addition to daily activities.
ACTIVE = 60 or more minutes a day of moderate physical activity in addition to daily activities.
HEALTHY HEARTS The AHA reports that exercising for as little as 30 minutes a day can reduce coronary heart disease in women by 30 to 40 percent. The statistics for men are just as staggering. Regular exercise has clear benefits for heart health.
For those getting ready to jump start their daily activity levels, especially if currently overweight, it may be prudent to speak with your physician before beginning your new routine. Consider talking with your doctor about your weight loss goals and partner with them to create a new, healthier lifestyle.
Dr. James Rellas suggests exercising at least five times per week for 30 minutes.
“Walking is one of the best forms of exercises,” he said. “Do something which will increase your pulse rate equal to 70-75 percent.”
Dr. Rellas says that exercise has benefits beyond weight loss and heart health. He lists improved mood, helping to prevent diabetes, cancer, gallstones, easing arthritis and extending your life span and improving the quality of each day.
“Exercise on a regular basis has shown improvement in all the above named conditions,” he says. “Most people don’t realize the many options to get the exercise needed. Please discuss those options with your health professionals.”
-By Addison Magazine