Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: Diet and Exercise Recommendations
In today’s world, it is considered common knowledge that a healthy diet and regular exercise will improve your quality of life. Whether you are an elite athlete, a grandma, a high-school athlete, a teacher, or an accountant, proper diet and exercise will help you lose weight, maintain a healthy weight, and reduce the risk of numerous chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and much more. Many people are under the misconception that to eat healthy one must count calories, buy expensive foods, and that they will never get to eat “pleasure” foods. Similarly, in regard to exercise, many people think they need a gym membership and hours of extra time each day dedicated to being physically active. Unfortunately, these are all factors that stop people from eating healthy and exercising and most of them are not true! The best thing a person can do to start eating a healthy diet and to sustain a regular exercise plan is to become educated about the benefits of each. Following are the latest diet and exercise recommendations to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
"The foods we eat and our activity level directly influence our heart health. By beginning a weight loss and exercise program, we may postpone or prevent heart disease."
Despite the recent educational efforts to make people aware of the causes of heart disease and the measures necessary to prevent it, heart disease remains the leading cause of death in America for both men and women, claiming a life every 33 seconds. Each day 2,600 people die of this disease.11 Coronary heart disease is the major form of cardiovascular disease. You cannot control risk factors such as gender, age, and genetics, but you need to be aware of what you can control, which is a healthy diet and regular physical activity.12
Diets high in cholesterol and saturated fats are often the cause for high blood cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease. People with a heart disease should be getting less than 200 milligrams of cholesterol each day.13 According to the American Heart Association, people with a heart disease should get less than 30 percent of their calories from fat and less than seven percent from saturated fat. In addition, salt intake should be limited to no more than a teaspoon a day.
What should you eat?
- Your diet should consist primarily of fruits, vegetables, grain products, lean meats, and fish.
- Try to decrease your level of fat (especially saturated fats) and cholesterol (i.e., fatty red meats, whole milk, whole milk cheeses, eggs, cream-based dishes, and rich desserts).
- You can cut fat and cholesterol by replacing fried foods with roasted, baked, grilled, steamed, and broiled foods.
- Buy only lean cuts of meat and trim away visible fat prior to eating.
- Remove the skin of chicken and turkey—the skin doubles the fat!
- Limit your intake of nuts and seeds, which are high in fat and calories.
Foods to avoid (high saturated fat content) include scones, cookies, pizza, cheese, milk, and other baked foods rich in butter, cheese, or cream.
Activity that reduces the risk or improves the symptoms of CHD does not require a structured or vigorous exercise program. The majority of the benefits of physical activity can be gained by performing moderate-intensity activities. Furthermore, physical activity must be performed regularly to maintain these benefits.7
What type and what quantity of physical activity is recommended to prevent CHD?
The appropriate type of activity is best determined by the individual’s preferences and what will be sustained. People who are currently sedentary or minimally active should gradually build up to the recommended goal of 30 minutes daily by adding a few minutes each day.
- It is recommended that all children and adults should accumulate at least 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, or preferably all, days of the week.
- Intermittent or shorter bouts of activity (at least 10 minutes), including tasks of daily living, also have similar cardiovascular and health benefits if performed at a level of moderate intensity (i.e., brisk walking, cycling, home repair, yard-work).
- Developing muscular strength and joint flexibility is important for an overall activity program to reduce the potential for injury and improve one’s ability to perform tasks. Upper extremity and resistance training can improve muscular function.
*Talk to your doctor prior to starting a new exercise program.
This article was written by By Kelley Lindstrom, Physical Therapy student and former intern for PT Northwest.
1 Pfeiffer, R.P., & Mangus, B.C. (Ed.) (2008). Concepts of Athletic Training. (5th ed.). Sudbury, Massachusetts: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Physical Activity for Everyone. Updated 17 December 2008. Date accessed 15 February 2009. http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/adults.html
3 Roberts, C.K., & Barnard, R.J. (2005). Effects of exercise and diet on chronic disease. Journal of Applied Physiology, 98, 3-30.
4 Fauci, A., M.D. National Inst. of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, "Exercise and Chronic Disease."
5 Woodward, K. (2007). Exercise reduces chronic disease risks. Center News Weekly.
6 Bellenir, K. (Ed.). (2008). Diabetes Sourcebook (4th ed.). Detroit: Omnigraphics, Inc. 91-100, 127-135.,
7 Campbell, S. PT. (2009). Diabetes and Exercise. PT Northwest.
8 Matthews, D.D., & Bellenir, K (Ed.) (2008). Hypertension Sourcebook. (1st ed.). Detroit: Omnigraphics, Inc. 261-312.
9 Wood, P. (2006). How Fat Works. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. 24-25.
10 Center for Disease Control and Prevention. High Blood Cholesterol Prevention. Cholesterol. Updated 8 November 2007. Date accessed 15 February 2009. http://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/prevention.htm
11 Mangano, F. (2005). Cholesterol Cure. Simple Ways To Add Cholesterol -Lowering Fiber To Your Diet. Retrieved 12 March, 2007, from http://www.60daystolowercholesterol.com/tips/fiber.html
12 Bellenir, K. (Ed.). (2000). Heart Diseases and Disorders Sourcebook (2nd ed.). Detroit: Omnigraphics, Inc. 183-208, 141-155.
13 Woolston, C. Reversing Heart Disease Through Diet. Ills & Conditions: Healthy Me! Updated 29 January 2009. Date accessed 15 February 2009. http://www.ahealthyme.com/topic/dietandheart#s5
14 Anderson, B. (2000). Stretching . Bolinas, California: Shelter Publications, Inc.
15 Alter, M.J. (1988). Science of Stretching. Champaign, Illinois: Human Kinetics Books.
16 Appleton, B. Stretching and Flexibility: How to Stretch. Date accessed 8 Feb 2009. http://www.cmcrossroads.com/bradapp/docs/rec/stretching/stretching_5.html
17 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Growing Stronger: Strength Training for Older Adults. Updated 3 December 2008. Date accessed 15 February 2009. http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/growingstronger/index.html
18 Lamb, D.R., Gisolfi, C.V., & Nadel, E. (Ed.). (1995). Perspectives in Exercise Science and Sports Medicine: Exercise in Older Adults, 8.
19 Hong, J. Ph.D, ATC. (2009). Concepts of Sports Injury. Willamette University.
20 Hong, J. Ph.D., ATC. (2009). Sports-Injury Prevention. Willamette University.
21 Pfeiffer, R.P., & Mangus, B.C. (Ed.) (2008). Concepts of Athletic Training. (5th ed.). Sudbury, Massachusetts: Jones and Bartlett Publishers. ,
22 Siegel, I.M., M.D. (2002). All About Joints: How to Prevent and Recover from Common Injuries. New York: Demos Medical Publishing, Inc.,
23 Quinn, E. Shoulder Tendonitis, Bursitis, and Impingement Syndrome. Updated 26 June 2008. Date accessed 15 February 2009. http://sportsmedicine.about.com/cs/shoulder/a/shoulder4.htm
24 McFarland, E.G. (2006). Examination of the Shoulder: The Complete Guide. New York: Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc. p. 216-217.
25 Griffin, L.Y. MD, PhD (Ed.). (2001). Prevention of Noncontact ACL Injuries. Rosemont, IL: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
26 Kirkaldy-Willis, W.H., & Burton, C.V. (Ed.). (1992). Managing Low Back Pain (3rd ed.). New York: Churchill Livingstone.
27 Quinn, E. Muscle Pain and Soreness After Exercise - Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. Preventing and treating DOMS - muscle pain and muscle soreness after exercise. Updated 29 October 2008. Date accessed 15 February 2009. http://sportsmedicine.about.com/cs/injuries/a/doms.htm
28 Hayes, D. (Ed.) (1998). Exploring Health Care Careers; Real People Tell You What You Need To Know. Chicago: Ferguson Publishing Company.