Physical activity provides long-term health benefits for everyone! By being active, you will burn calories that you store from eating throughout the day and—it can be as easy as walking the dog or as rigorous as running a marathon. Providing opportunities for children to be active early on puts them on a path to better physical and mental health. It’s never too late to jump-start a healthy lifestyle.
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that healthy adults include aerobic exercise and strength training in their fitness plans, specifically:
- At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week
- Strength training exercises at least twice a week
Living a healthier life can not only extend your life, it can also improve the quality. Feeling physically better and having control over your own life can greatly increase your mental health as well. Although there are some aspects of physical and mental health that are beyond an individual’s (and science’s) control, there are many things that people can do to improve their quality of life.
Our bodies, like cars, need fuel to run. And like cars, the quality of the fuel that we use can affect our performance. Making sure that you are giving your body all the fuel it needs and the best quality fuel you can will improve how your body runs and feels.
Buy fresh products that have been stored properly.Many products such as dairy (milk, eggs, yogurt, and cheese), meat, poultry, and fish have a ‘sell-by’ date printed on the label. Check the sell-by date on products before buying — stores should not be selling products that have expired (and you should not be buying them) because it means the food may be starting to spoil. Similarly, dairy products and meats should be stored in refrigerated or frozen sections to prevent spoiling. Don’t buy a product if it looks like it has been sitting out or doesn’t appear fresh.
When buying raw fruit and vegetables, buy the freshest available and wash them before eating.
Don’t choose fruits or vegetables that are starting to mold, and remember to wash them when you get home and before you eat them. Even if your food comes from a store that is clean or in a package that says ‘pre-washed’, you don’t know who or what has touched them before you.
Exercising and staying physically fit are an important part of maintaining your health. Proper exercise and fitness can improve your health in many ways. It can:
- Improve the health of your heart and lungs (which lowers your chances of heart disease)
- Lower your cholesterol and blood pressure (which lowers your chances of heart disease, stroke, and other chronic diseases)
- Maintain your weight (which lowers your chances of heart disease, stroke, and other chronic diseases)
- Improve your strength and flexibility (which makes daily activities easier and lowers your chance of osteoporosis, broken bones, pulled muscles, and other injuries)
- Improve your mental health (by lowering anxiety and depression and increasing feelings of control and well-being.Eat well and exercise regularly. Have a yearly physical with your doctor or healthcare provider. This check up should include checking your weight, blood pressure, listening to your heart and lungs, and a general physical exam; discussing your lifestyle (exercise, diet), health problems, and current medication; and answering any questions you may have about your health.Women should: Have a yearly gynecological exam that includes a pelvic exam, breast exam, and pap smear (a test that screens for cervical cancer and other problems) if you are over 18 years of age or sexually active. Perform monthly at-home breast exams. Have a yearly mammogram if you are over 40 years of age. Schedule regular doctor’s visits and review their nutrition and lifestyle with the doctor if pregnant or trying to get pregnant.