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Physical Activity, Nutrition and weight loss



Keys to Good Health: Exercise & eating right

Combining healthy food choices with regular exercise is simply smart. It is often hard to make big changes so it is always best to start with small adjustments in both your diet and your exercise routine. Once you see the rewards, you will be motivated to take larger steps. It’s also wise to consult with your doctor so you can jointly develop a nutrition and exercise plan that takes into consider your total wellness and what is best for “all of you.”

Physical Activity

Good news! If you would describe yourself as leading a sedentary lifestyle simply getting out of your chair and moving around can help. In fact, "You get the best response with light or moderate intensity physical activity," according to exercise physiologist Gregory Panza. You don't have to spend hours at the gym or work up a dripping sweat to improve your mood and feel better about yourself. Yes, regular physical activity is important to good health and especially necessary in order to lose weight. But perhaps even more important than weight loss, exercise influences your health by reducing risk factors for the following diseases: cardiovascular issues, including heart attack and stroke; blood pressure; diabetes; osteoporosis; as well as helping manage depression and anxiety.


Helpful Exercise tips


Replace sedentary behaviors with active time i.e. turn off your TV or computer and take a walk


Set aside a specific time to exercise every day and be consistent


Focus on activities you enjoy and invite family members or friends to join you


If you do not like exercising for long periods of time, break it up i.e. instead of exercising for 30 minutes do two 15 minute segments


Join a YMCA or fitness club and surround yourself with active people

Some of us wonder how much exercise we should get based on our height and weight. These measures can be used to calculate our body mass index (BMI) which helps determine if you are overweight and would benefit from dietary changes and/or additional exercise. To calculate your BMI, multiply your weight in pounds by 703. Then multiply your height in inches by itself. Divide the first figure by the second. A BMI of less than 18.5 indicates you are underweight, 18.5 to 24.9 indicates normal weight and more than 25 indicates you are likely to be overweight.

In order to lose weight, the American Council on Exercise recommends doing a combination routine of aerobics, strength training and flexibility/ stretching for at least 45 minutes per day, five or six days per week. More physical activity will increase the number of calories your body uses.  Although height does not really impact the number of calories you burn during exercise, your weight does. Lighter people doing the same exercise for the same amount of time will burn fewer calories than heavier people, perhaps it's one of nature's way of helping us achieve our optimal weight! Generally though, in addition to exercise, you may have to reduce your caloric intake to achieve your optimal weight.

While most weight loss occurs when people reduce the amount of calories they consume; research is clear that it is critical to remain physically active to maintain weight loss. According to the CDC, “To maintain your weight: Work your way up to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or an equivalent mix of the two each week. To lose weight and keep it off: You will need a high amount of physical activity unless you also adjust your diet and reduce the amount of calories you are eating and drinking. Getting to and staying at a healthy weight requires both regular physical activity and a healthy eating plan.” Examples of moderate physical activity are: hiking, yard work, bicycling, stretching and walking briskly whereas vigorous exercise includes: jogging, swimming, skiing, aerobics or playing a sport such as basketball or soccer.

Many organizations recognize the importance of exercise for overall health and mobility and offer free exercise classes. Check out your local hospital, senior center or mall for exercise groups or programs that might be of interest to you. Ask your insurer whether they partner with Silver Sneakers, a free fitness program that gives older adults access to gyms and classes across the country. 



Along with exercise, good nutrition is critical for our health. A healthy diet may help prevent heart disease, strokes, Type 2 diabetes and can also reduce the risk of developing certain cancers. It is wise to eat a wide variety of foods opting for foods derived from plants such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains, which contain valuable vitamins and minerals, while limiting your intake of processed foods and alcohol.

Many ask "what foods are best"? Whole grains such as whole wheat, oats and barley contain important nutrients and fiber and yet are low in fat. Foods such as nuts, fish, avocados and vegetable oils boast healthy unsaturated fats. Instead of butter, olive oil or canola oil is recommended. Since protein is important, do not shy away from eggs, beef, pork or poultry, but be sure to select lean cuts and avoid frying, high fat sauces and gravies (except at Thanksgiving.) Also non-meat proteins like dry beans, lentils, and peas offer plenty of protein and fiber without harmful fat and cholesterol. 

As a general rule, stay away from transfats. These come from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils that are used in processed baked goods, snack foods and some french fries. Research shows that transfats reduce our good cholesterol (LDL) and raise our bad cholesterol (LDL), which can increase the risk of heart disease. Fortunately, many food producers are now working to reduce these fats in their products.

Along with transfats watch out for high sodium levels which can have harmful effects especially for people with high blood pressure, hypertension or diabetes. Spices can be used instead of salt to flavor your foods. Also, it is probably no surprise that skim, 1% or non-dairy milks (soy, rice, almond or cashew…) are better for you than 2% or whole milk. Low fat also rules when it comes to cheeses, cottage cheese, cream cheese or yogurt.


A balanced diet


Main components of a balanced diet: carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins, minerals and water. 

Choose the right quantities from all five food groups:

Whole grains,with complex carbohydrates have greater nutritional value

Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber

Protein: Lean meats, fish, poultry and eggs help repair tissues in the body

Dairy with calcium promotes healthy bones and teeth, and is a source of protein

Fats and Sugars: Fats for brain health, energy, absorption of certain vitamins and skin, hair and joint health. Unsaturated fats help reduce "bad" cholesterol. Natural sugars are a good energy source.


Helpful Tips for Better Nutrition and Weight Control


Try to eat green, orange, red, purple and yellow produce every day

Cut back on sugars and carbohydrates

Focus on eating protein-select lean, low-fat cuts of beef and pork

Eat low carb vegetables: broccoli, spinach, cabbage, cauliflower, peppers, zucchini, asparagus and mushrooms

Eat nuts (nuts help drive weight loss-they are healthy and filling)

Drink water-avoid all sugary drinks

Do not skip breakfast

Watch portion size: Use smaller plates and eat slowly