We’ve heard over and over again that a well balanced diet and good exercise program are the building blocks of good health. So why don’t more people strive to achieve both?
Life Time Fitness, a national Healthy Way of Life company, is seeking to help people take charge of their health and wellness in the face of a national obesity epidemic. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 50-percent of U.S. adults - or approximately 100 million people - are overweight, and more than 33% are trying to lose weight.
“Over the years, I’ve heard more excuses than you can possibly imagine,” says Jeff Zweifel, vice president of the nutritional products division for Life Time Fitness. “People tell me they’re too busy or that it’s too difficult to take the time to eat right and exercise. Others have tried and faced disappointing or ineffectual results. We aim to help folks change their habits and attitudes toward achieving better health.”
Numerous studies have shown that getting enough exercise and receiving adequate nutrition are critical if you want to live a healthy lifestyle. The 1996 Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity recommends the average American get 30 minutes of physical activity per day.
“New science shows you don’t have to go for high intensity physical activity to improve your lifestyle. Regularly walking the dog around the block, raking leaves, folding the laundry or taking the stairs instead of the elevator can all help. The key is to be consistent about it,” says Philip Haberstro, president of the National Association for Health and Fitness.
Since the Surgeon General’s Report came out, his agency has been working on ways to encourage people to engineer physical activity back into their lives. “Personally, I park a little further away from the places I’m going so I can get a little exercise in on my way to appointments,” adds Haberstro.
Staying active isn’t the only thing you need to do to maintain a healthy lifestyle. “All the exercise in the world isn’t going to help you in the long run if you don’t eat right too,” says Zweifel.
In a guidebook provided to its members, Life Time Fitness nutritionists recommend that instead of a big breakfast, lunch and dinner, people eat several small balanced meals (optimally four) and a couple of small snacks throughout the day. “By balanced we mean meals that contain protein, complex carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables,” adds Zweifel.
Good sources of protein include lean meats, fish, egg whites, dairy products, beans and rice. Complex carbohydrates include whole-wheat bread, wild rice, whole-wheat pasta, multigrain cereal and potatoes. You should also aim to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables throughout the day. Keep in mind that they also make great snacks.
For the 9 out of 10 adults who do not get the essential daily vitamins and nutrients from the food they eat, nutritional supplements should be considered. Life Time Fitness offers a full line of nutritional products, including men’s and women’s multivitamins, energy bars and shakes and weight-loss supplements.
The reason diet and exercise are so important has a lot to do with metabolism - how your body breaks down food and regulates energy. If you have a fast metabolism, your body stores less fat and you have more energy. The exact opposite is true for people with slow metabolism.
“Many people think the reason we exercise is simply to burn calories, but it goes way beyond that,” says Zweifel. “What people really need to realize is that the true purpose of exercise is to send a message to our bodies, asking for improvement in metabolism, strength, aerobic capacity and overall health and fitness.”
Life Time Fitness trainers recommend that people who are serious about shedding the pounds and keeping them off participate in aerobic training exercise regimens a minimum of three times per week for at least 30 minutes at a time. Aerobic exercises include walking, biking, jogging, swimming, aerobic classes and dancing. Dieters are also urged to take part in resistance training exercises, such as weight lifting, at least twice a week for a minimum of 30 minutes per session.
To learn more about the healthy living programs at Life Time Fitness, log onto www.lifetimefitness.com.
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