Diet & Exercise
Over 200,000 people die prematurely in the UK every year because of coronary heart disease, stroke and other illnesses related to poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle. The amount and type of food we eat has a major influence on our health. Healthy eating is about eating the right types of and quantity of foods, week in and week out.
Achieving a balanced diet means:
- Eating more wholegrain starchy food e.g. wholemeal bread, brown rice, and wholegrain cereals. Starch is a good energy provider and adding it to your diet can help to reduce fat intake and increase fibre.
- Eat more fruit and vegetables. Five portions a day.
- Reduce fat intake e.g. choose leaner cuts of meat and low-fat spreads and semi or skimmed milk.
- Cut down on salt
- Drink less alcohol (no more than three units per day for women and four units per day for men). Excess drinking can increase the risk of some cancers, heart and liver disease.
- Try to be more physically active.
Exercise is essential to improving general health. It is estimated that only one in five people in the UK get enough exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle and satisfactory fitness levels. The usual reason cited for a lack of exercise is “lack of time”. But exercise can be fitted in to the busiest of lives. Simply walking briskly for 20minutes a day (getting off the tube a stop early) can improve fitness levels.
The benefits of regular exercise include:
- Prevention of disease, especially coronary heart disease
- Improves the efficiency of the heart and lungs
- Helps to maintain a healthy weight
- Increases life expectancy
- Helps depression
Exercising for 20 or 30 minutes a day will help to improve your fitness levels and general health. The exercise should be sufficient to increase your breathing and pulse rate and leave you feeling out of breath but not exhausted.
Choose an exercise that you enjoy and will fit in to your routine. There’s no point in choosing to run regularly if you hate running e.g. take a brisk walk, swim, play tennis – even digging the garden or doing the housework can help improve your fitness levels.
British Nutrition Foundation – www.nutrition.org.uk
BBC Fitness – www.bbc.co.uk/health/fitness.daily.shtml