Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Exercise, Nutrition & Wellness

I often get asked how I maintain an adequate weight being surrounded by the things I post and write about every single month.  Although I must admit that cookies, cakes and other sweets are things I enjoy, I eat them in moderation and share the rest.  Having a good diet is essential for my well-being.  However, exercise also plays an important part in my effort to sustain overall health and wellness, with walking being my favorite thing to do.  The trails that surround our home provide a nice workout in the afternoons and I try to walk them every single day.  

Jennifer, who is a dear reader of the blog and a writer in her spare time, compiled some vital information to help us think about exercise, nutrition and overall wellness.

Note: consult your own physician before starting any exercise routine.  

Author: Jennifer Curtis 


Exercise and Nutrition for Health and Wellness
Regular exercise and good nutrition go hand-in-hand to promote both physical and mental health. Each aspect supports the other—if you eat well but don’t exercise, or vice versa, you’re only getting half the benefit you could be. Less than half, in fact, because when you combine the two, you achieve a synergistic effect that is much greater than the sum of the parts.
Choose a Form of Exercise you Love
Many people think of exercise as something that has to be done, like brushing the teeth or taking a shower—it’s not really fun or exciting, but you just do it anyway. The trouble is, the lack of enjoyment makes it difficult to maintain a regular exercise routine in the long term, and if you don’t enjoy your exercise program, you’re not benefiting as much as you could be. There’s no reason why you should force yourself into a form of exercise that you don’t enjoy, however; for effective cardiovascular exercise, what’s important is not the type of exercise, but the level of intensity—measured as your heart rate in beats per minute—at which you do it.
To find the right level, subtract your age from 220, then find 70% of the number you get. The final number is your target beats per minute for cardio, if you’re new to exercise. For example, if you’re 30 and new to exercise, your target is 220 – 30 = 190 x 70% = 133 beats per minute. If you’re already fairly active, your target is 80%.
The upshot is, you’re free to choose any activity you like, as long as it gets you in the right heart rate range for cardiovascular exercise. If you choose a form of exercise that you truly enjoy you’re much more likely to turn it into a regular habit. Hate walking and running? Don’t do it! Instead, allow yourself to try as many different activities as it takes, until you find something that really motivates you.
Exercise and Wellness
By exercising for enjoyment, you’re more likely to maintain a regular exercise schedule, and you’ll get more out of it too, in terms of both physical and mental wellness. When you’re exercising in a way that’s really fun for you, you look forward to it, feel great while you’re doing it, and take more pride in your achievements. You’re also more likely to push yourself into setting and achieving new fitness goals that further improve your general health.
Exercise is an important part of physical and mental wellness, both directly and indirectly. Regular exercise helps maintain a healthy weight, and improves cardiovascular health, muscle strength, endurance, balance, and flexibility, but there are other benefits too. An established exercise routine can also help you sleep, improve the quality of your sleep, reduce stress, improve your digestive health, strengthen your immune system, and improve your mood and general sense of well-being.
Making Exercise and Nutrition a Routine
Everyone enjoys good food, but there’s no general consensus on what good food is! For nutritional purposes, it’s natural, unprocessed food that’s rich in essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals—fresh vegetables and fruit, complex carbohydrates over refined ones, lean protein, and unsaturated fats. The general rule is, eat for health and wellness around 80% of the time; the remaining 20% is for everything else!
When you start engaging in more physical activity, your caloric requirements increase too. This is true even if you’re hoping to lose weight—if you skimp on calories, you won’t have the energy you need to exercise, and your metabolism is likely to slow down to compensate. The key is to meet your increased energy needs with the nutrient-rich foods that are your body’s best fuel.
For example, eating the right foods at the right times can actually help you get more out of your exercise periods. Try this: three to four hours before a scheduled workout, eat a light meal of complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and a little healthy fat—or simply eat at a normal time for you, making sure to include these nutrients, and then exercise three to four hours later. This supplies your body with the energy it needs for exercise, and gives you plenty of time to digest the food, so it’s available as energy when you need it. For someone with a keen interest in improving their athletic performance, another great option is to use endurance-enhancing sports drinks, which can help your body recover more quickly by boosting your circulation to get more nutrients into your muscle tissue. One particular advantage of these types of drinks is that unlike popular branded sports drinks, they contain no sugar—this means you can provide the energy you use in your workout by eating complex carbohydrates and lean protein, which are much better for you than the sugar would be.
This kind of approach really illustrates the extent to which nutrition and fitness go so well together—your body relies on the energy you provide to perform everyday tasks as well as exercise, and by eating healthy, whole, nutrient-rich foods, you provide not only that, but also all the vitamins and minerals you need for true physical and mental wellness. A regular exercise routine that you enjoy doing is therefore great motivation to eat for good nutrition.

4 comments:

  1. Very well written and excellent information!

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  2. Great, detailed and informative advice

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  3. Thanks! I like this article too! :)

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