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A Healthy and Active Lifestyle Contributes to Physical, Mental and Social Well-Being

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Health has been defined at the international level as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” under the World Health Organization (WHO) Constitution.

A healthy and active lifestyle is a lifestyle that contributes to physical, mental and social well-being and includes regular exercise, paying attention to the food we consume and products that we use in our daily healthcare regimen.

Physical activity is important for everyone, but how much you need depends on your age. The following physical activity recommendations are posted from choosemyplate.gov

Adults (18-64 years)

Adults should do at least 2 hours and 30 minutes each week of aerobic physical activity at a moderate level OR 1 hour and 15 minutes each week of aerobic physical activity at a vigorous level. Being active 5 or more hours each week can provide even more health benefits. Spreading aerobic activity out over at least 3 days a week is best. Also, each activity should be done for at least 10 minutes at a time. Adults should also do strengthening activities, like push-ups, sit-ups and lifting weights, at least 2 days a week. 

Children and adolescents (6-17 years)

Children and adolescents should do 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day. Most of the 60 minutes should be either moderate- or vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity, and should include vigorous-intensity physical activity at least 3 days a week. As part of their 60 or more minutes of daily physical activity, children and adolescents should include muscle-strengthening activities, like climbing, at least 3 days a week and bone-strengthening activities, like jumping, at least 3 days a week. Children and adolescents are often active in short bursts of time rather than for sustained periods of time, and these short bursts can add up to meet physical activity needs. Physical activities for children and adolescents should be developmentally appropriate, fun, and offer variety. 

Young children (2-5 years)

There is not a specific recommendation for the number of minutes young children should be active each day. Children ages 2-5 years should play actively several times each day. Their activity may happen in short bursts of time and not be all at once. Physical activities for young children should be developmentally appropriate, fun, and offer variety. 

Physical activity is generally safe for everyone. The health benefits you gain from being active are far greater than the chances of getting hurt. Here are some things you can do to stay safe while you are active: 

  • If you haven't been active in a while, start slowly and build up.
  • Learn about the types and amounts of activity that are right for you.
  • Choose activities that are appropriate for your fitness level.
  • Build up the time you spend before switching to activities that take more effort.
  • Use the right safety gear and sports equipment.
  • Choose a safe place to do your activity.
  • See a health care provider if you have a health problem.

Although moderate physical activity such as brisk walking is safe for most people, health experts suggest that you talk to your doctor before you start an exercise program if any of the following apply: You have heart disease. You have asthma or lung disease.

For youth and adults engaging in physical activity and sports, healthy eating is essential for optimizing performance. Combining good nutrition with physical activity can lead to a healthier lifestyle. The following healthy eating tips are posted from choosemyplate.gov

10 Tips: Healthy Eating for an Active Lifestyle

  1. Maximize with nutrient-packed foods
    Give your body the nutrients it needs by eating a variety of nutrient-packed food, including whole grains, lean protein, fruits and vegetables, and low-fat or fat-free dairy. Eat less food high in solid fats, added sugars, and sodium (salt).
  2. Energize with grains
    Your body’s quickest energy source comes from foods such as bread, pasta, oatmeal, cereals, and tortillas. Be sure to make at least half of your grain food choices whole-grain foods like whole-wheat bread or pasta and brown rice.
  3. Power up with protein
    Protein is essential for building and repairing muscle. Choose lean or low-fat cuts of beef or pork, and skinless chicken or turkey. Get your protein from seafood twice a week. Quality protein sources come from plant-based foods, too.
  4. Mix it up with plant protein foods
    Variety is great! Choose beans and peas (kidney, pinto, black, or white beans; split peas; chickpeas; hummus), soy products (tofu, tempeh, veggie burgers), and unsalted nuts and seeds.
  5. Vary your fruits and vegetables
    Get the nutrients your body needs by eating a variety of colors, in various ways. Try blue, red, or black berries; red and yellow peppers; and dark greens like spinach and kale. Choose fresh, frozen, low-sodium canned, dried, or 100 percent juice options.
  6. Don’t forget dairy
    Foods like fat-free and low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, and fortified soy beverages (soymilk) help to build and maintain strong bones needed for everyday activities.
  7. Balance your meals
    Use MyPlate as a reminder to include all food groups each day.
  8. Drink water
    Stay hydrated by drinking water instead of sugary drinks. Keep a reusable water bottle with you to always have water on hand.
  9. Know how much to eat
    Get personalized nutrition information based on your age, gender, height, weight, current physical activity level, and other factors. Use SuperTracker to determine your calorie needs, plan a diet that’s right for you, and track progress toward your goals. Lean more at SuperTracker.usda.gov.
  10. Reach your goals
    Earn Presidential recognition for reaching your healthy eating and physical activity goals. Log on to the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition website to sign up for the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA+).

To avoid premature aging and damage that can lead to skin cancer, everyone should use sunscreen every day and practice sun-safe habits, such as seeking shade and wearing protective clothing, hats and UV-blocking sunglasses.

Even in the winter use sunscreen daily to prevent cumulative sun exposure and the resulting fine lines, wrinkles, discoloration, and even skin cancer. It is important that your sunscreen is broad spectrum which stands for full coverage including UVA and UVB protection.

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