If you read this blog or follow me on social media, you’re probably already active. But if you’re not, I’d like to help you live a healthy lifestyle. Find out WHY!
Running Coaches’ Corner is a weekly linkup for all things health, fitness, and of course, running. A few things I focus on in this blog (and linkup) are strength, nutrition, and running tips and tricks. But I’ve realized over the course of the blog, I’ve never really focused on the why. Why is running so good for us? Why is it important to be fit? And most importantly, why should we lead a healthy lifestyle?
Many years ago, I lived the typical American lifestyle: GMO foods, fast food, and no exercise. I guess I could have been unhealthier, but I certainly wasn’t focused on physical fitness and long-term health. Of course, since then I’ve wised up quite a bit. I’ve been running for years, I’m a running coach, and now I’m a personal trainer. So it’s all worked out. But not all of us are leading a healthy lifestyle and I’m hoping to change that — even if it’s for just one person.
Living a Healthy Lifestyle: Body Weight, Fitness, and Chronic Disease
Chronic diseases are the leading cause of death and disability in the United States.
66% of Americans are overweight and roughly 34% are obese.
Coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, colon and breast cancer, and depression are all widespread chronic diseases. Excessive body weight is associated with cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, osteoarthritis, and some types of cancer, to name a few. Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90-95% of all cases of diabetes and more than 80% of individuals with type 2 diabetes are currently overweight or have a history of being overweight.
Lack of preventative care coupled with poor lifestyle choices are large contributors to the rise of these diseases. But good news — physical activity has been proven to reduce the risk of chronic disease. Individuals who exercise have a lower rate of all of them.
People who regularly exercise also have a lower risk of hip and vertebral fractures (particularly important as we age). They also have higher levels of cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness and they’re more likely to have a healthy body composition.
How much physical activity is enough?
The World Health Organization recommends adults aged 18-64 engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity.
What that means in layman’s terms is that you should participate in a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on five or more days per week. Something to get your heart rate up — a brisk walk, a slow jog, using the elliptical at a moderate pace, or a leisurely bike ride. For increased benefit, try running at a moderate pace, HIIT workouts, or faster bike rides.
Eat across the rainbow…
In addition to being physically active, changing poor eating habits will help immensely as well. When choosing foods, opt for fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, and lean meats. By eating across the rainbow — reds, oranges, yellows, greens, and blues — we ensure we receive important vitamins and minerals. Think: red peppers, tomatoes, cantaloupe, corn, leafy greens, and dark berries as an example!
…but don’t deprive yourself!
Be sure not to deprive yourself or you’ll make yourself miserable. Deprivation comes in many forms. Punishment (I can’t eat ice cream because I gained a pound this week) and fear (I can’t eat carbs because they make me gain weight) are two common forms of deprivation. First, if you punish yourself, you’ll fail. A little bite of ice cream won’t completely derail your healthy lifestyle. Second, we need all macronutrients in our diets to function as efficiently as possible. By restricting carbohydrates, for example, you’re depriving your body of its main energy source. Don’t do that. Just eat a balanced diet and you’ll be all set.
Making small changes, little by little, to diet and activity level will have huge impacts on your health. Start small — a brisk walk a couple days a week — and gradually work up to bigger changes like higher intensity workouts and less processed meals.
Chances are if you read this blog or follow me on social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, & Pinterest), you’re already active or at least interested in health and fitness. But if you’re not, I think I’ve presented some compelling evidence to hopefully help you change your ways. If you’ve got the power to prevent or even reverse a chronic disease, what’s stopping you? Don’t get in your own way.
I hope this post helps explain the “why” and helps answer any questions you may have when it comes to why we should focus on fitness and a healthy lifestyle. Humans are meant to be fit and active. We were made for running and hard manual work. Let’s not waste our muscles and intelligence by being sedentary and lazy. Even Christopher McDougall contends we were Born to Run!
What’s your favorite color to eat from the rainbow? –> I love all the dark berries and leafy greens!
How many minutes per week do you work out?
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