Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Relationship Between Diet & Exercise
The Importance of Diet
The food choices we make throughout our lives can make a difference in the likelihood for many diseases that cause premature death or disability, including heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. Three long-term studies being conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health have followed 300,000 people and suggest that:
-- a diet rich in vegetables may help prevent breast and prostate cancer
-- colon cancer is more common among those who eat more red meat
-- high-fat diets increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers
-- a diet with too many refined carbohydrates increases the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
Although there are some nutritional changes associated with aging, for the most part, what was considered a healthy diet at 40 will still be a healthy diet at 60 or 70. Health experts recommend a diet that emphasizes whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables as well as other tips:
-- Drink eight to 10 cups of fluid every day, and make at least five of those water. Limit caffeinated and alcoholic beverages.
-- Reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet and replace it with monounsaturated fat such as that in olive, canola, sunflower, safflower and soybean oils.
-- When snacking, choose fruits, vegetables or whole-grain products.
-- Make eating fun by sharing dinnertime with family and friends, or joining community functions whenever possible.
The Benefits of Exercise
Many experts believe that regular exercise is the single most important thing anyone can do to improve overall health and well-being. New studies show that aerobic activity increases levels of brain chemicals that encourage the growth of nerve cells, which may be the reason moderately strenuous exercise is associated with enhanced memory skills.
Some ways that exercise can help retain mental capacity include:
-- reducing anxiety and stress
-- improving mood and possibly alleviating depression
-- improving sleep
-- increasing energy levels
-- slowing the rate of bone loss
-- enabling the body to use insulin more efficiently
-- improving cardiovascular health
-- controlling weight and preventing obesity
The National Institute of Aging suggests incorporating four types of exercises into your life. Endurance exercise, such as walking, helps increase stamina. Strength exercise, with free weights or resistance weights, increases metabolism and may help prevent osteoporosis. Flexibility exercise, such as stretching or yoga, prevents and aids recovery from injuries. And balance exercises, such as standing on one foot, help prevent falls.
By following these basic tips, as well as any advice from your physician related to any specific health conditions, it is possible to live well in old age as opposed to just living into old age.