According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition, there is an important link between good nutrition and healthy weight; reduced chronic disease risk; and overall health. It is stated that about one-third of U.S. adults (33.8%) are obese and approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese.
You may have noticed that for common diseases like diabetes and hypertension, the first line of treatment is diet and exercise. When this does not produce the desired result, the healthcare provider may prescribe a medication but would usually ask the patient to continue with a recommended diet and exercise.
Why are diet and exercise so important?
Even for people who have a healthy weight, a poor diet is associated with major health risks that can cause illness and even death. These include heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and certain types of cancer. Smart food choices, can help protect from these health problems. (hhs.gov)
Regular physical activity can produce long-term health benefits such as the prevention of chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and stroke (the three leading health-related causes of death). Other benefits of physical activity or exercise include, weight control, stronger muscles, reduced body fat, better overall strength and endurance, improved sleep and decreased potential of becoming depressed to name a few.
Diet and exercise is better than Diet or exercise.
A study on the “Effects of exercise training and Mediterranean diet on vascular risk reduction in post-menopausal women” suggested that engaging in Mediterranean diet and exercise regularly improves microcirculatory and cardiorespiratory functions, and enhances exercise tolerance in postmenopausal women, thereby reducing the CVD risk in this high-risk group The group that did both diet and exercise had a better outcome than those that did only exercise (Alkhatib, A., & Klonizakis, M. 2014).
Why is it so difficult?
A lot has been said about diet and exercise over the years but there does not seem to be much change in the society. This is because we make it so difficult. First, an individual must come to the point where you have a “why”. Why do I want to diet or exercise? Do I want to be healthy? Do I want to look better? Or do I just want to impress others. Whatever your reason is, it must be strong enough to keep you to your plan.
One advice I have is like the common adage, “slow and steady wins the race”. Start with little steps like changing your diet one thing at a time. A very good article with tips on healthy eating habits has been provided by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
For exercise routines, start simple. If a particular exercise routine hurts, make sure you change it. You might be damaging a muscle and that would defeat the whole purpose.
Decide today to take action with one small step at a time. Make sure that you house is full of healthy things to eat. When you feel like nibbling on something, you will have only healthy choices. Walking is a very good form on physical activity, after which you can graduate to low impact exercise equipment.
I wish you the best in your journey to good health.
Alkhatib, A., & Klonizakis, M. (2014). Effects of exercise training and Mediterranean diet on vascular risk reduction in post-menopausal women. Clinical Hemorheology & Microcirculation, 57(1), 33–47. https://doi-org.nec.gmilcs.org/10.3233/CH-131770
HHS Office. (2017, January 26). Importance of Good Nutrition. Retrieved January 10, 2019, from https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/eat-healthy/importance-of-good-nutrition/index.html