With the start of fall, the days get shorter and the weather gets cooler; it's easy to fall off the bandwagon and lose sight of our health and wellness goals. Stay on track with healthy eating and regular exercise to decrease your risk for
- cardiovascular disease
- diabetes mellitus
- cancer (colon and breast)
- bone and joint diseases (osteoporosis and osteoarthritis)
Regular physical activity helps improve musculoskeletal strength and fitness, which is associated with improved health status and decreased risk of chronic disease and disability. This is important particularly with older adults to allow for continued functional independence; with less fitness daily activities like getting out of a chair and climbing stairs can become harder. In addition, regular physical activity has been proven to lead to better psychological well-being, which is also important in the prevention and management of cardiovascular and other chronic diseases.¹
How much exercise should you get? Standard recommendations suggest 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week, or 30 minutes/day five times a week. It is also recommended to include moderate intensity strengthening exercises a minimum of 2 times a week. ²
Consider keeping track of your fitness by monitoring daily steps with a wearable device (fitbit, etc) or with your phone (iphone's health app).
In addition to increasing or maintaining activity levels, diet is an important component in weight loss and/or weight maintenance. In general, the simplest way too look at weight loss or weight maintenance is to look at calorie input:calorie output. Are you eating more than you're burning daily? Are you active enough throughout the day to burn what you consume?
Use guidelines like the USDA MyPlate to create a healthy, balanced diet. The USDA suggests considering the following principles when creating your healthy eating style:
Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
Focus on whole fruits.
Vary your veggies.
Make half your grains whole grains.
Move to low-fat and fat-free milk or yogurt.
Vary your protein routine.
Drink and eat less sodium, saturated fat, and added sugars.³
Consider keeping track of your daily intake through sites/apps like myfitnesspal, loseit!, or the myplate tracker.
Finally, the best way to meet your health and fitness goals is to create SMART goals. That means your goals are:
Specific: A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. Provide enough detail so that there is no indecision as to what exactly you should be doing.
Measurable: Choose a goal with measurable progress, so you can see the change as it occurs. A measurable goal has an outcome that can be assessed as a hit or miss, success or failure.
Attainable: An achievable goal has an outcome that is realistic given your current social, economic, or cultural resources and time available. Goal achievement may be more of a “stretch” if the outcome is difficult to begin with.
Realistic: Start small; with what you can and will do and you're more likely to meet your goal, instead of get discouraged by a goal that's too lofty.
Timely: Set a timeframe for the goal: for next week, in three months, by six months. Setting an end point for the goal gives you a clear target to achieve.⁴
Set SMART diet and fitness goals this fall and consult the following resources to stay on track!
1. Warburton, D. E. R., Nicol, C. W., & Bredin, S. S. D. (2006). Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association Journal, 174(6), 801–809. http://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.051351
2. Boehmer, T. (2011). Summary of CDC Workshop on Physical Activity Guidelines and Air Pollution Exposure: 2191. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 43(Suppl 1). doi:10.1249/01.MSS.0000401591.82325.bc
4.Doran, G. T. (1981). "There's a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management's Goals and Objectives", Management Review, Vol. 70, Issue 11, pp. 35-36.