Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is not merely a lifestyle choice. It can, literally, affect the length and quality of life itself. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2010 dietary guidelines concluded that people who are physically active and maintain a healthy body weight are less likely to develop chronic disabling medical problems, including Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and debilitating spinal conditions. Education about the benefits of maintaining a healthy body weight should begin early, according to the USDA, because childhood obesity can lead to a lifetime of health issues.
Caloric intake should equal energy output
The key to maintaining a healthy weight is to balance caloric intake with energy output. For most people, this is, of course, easier said than done. Finding the time – or the will – to exercise is a matter of setting priorities, but day-to-day responsibilities often become all-consuming. In addition, a full schedule of work and family life heightens the temptation to take advantage of easy access to fast food that is often high in calories and low in nutritional benefits. Still, the risks of obesity are real and should be taken into account. How can busy individuals reconcile the need to maintain a healthy weight with their daily responsibilities? Quite simply, it takes commitment to:
- Stay physically active – Adults should engage in at least 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity to maintain weight; the duration should increase to 90 minutes if the goal is losing weight. Just remember, never begin an exercise regimen without first consulting a physician.
- Eat right – Your physician can help you establish a daily calorie goal that’s right for you, but on average, a daily 2,000-calorie diet should include two cups of fruits and two-and-a-half cups of vegetables, 3 ounces of whole grains and three cups of dairy products. Also, it’s typically best to avoid refined carbohydrates, sodium and added sugars.
- Consume adequate nutrients – Vitamins and minerals, such as calcium and vitamin D, are vital for cell development, bone growth, enzymatic performance and other bodily functions.
Counting calories might sound tedious, but if you are like most people, your caloric intake is a real impediment to maintaining a healthy weight. After all, recent studies have estimated that an average American consumes between 100 and 400 more calories per day than they expend. This disparity leads to weight gain, an important factor to consider as you make a plan for proper nutrition and exercise. The good news is that there are many free, easy online diet journals, such as MyFitnessPal.com, where you can track your daily calorie consumption and exercise.
As an added incentive, maintaining a healthy weight has been shown to be a good preventive measure against developing painful spinal conditions like herniated discs, arthritis of the spine and spinal stenosis. Or, if you are already dealing with a spinal condition, ask your physician if losing weight would be beneficial in the healing process.