Healthier Choices for a Healthier Weight
North Dakota’s obesity rates have been steadily increasing over the past decade. Today, over 33% of the state’s population is considered obese, a condition that poses a range of health risks. Now is a great time to make a commitment to exercise more and eat better in order to reach and maintain a healthy weight.
What is a healthy weight?
According to Harvard Public Health, “A healthy weight is a number that is associated with a low risk of weight-related diseases and health issues. Although healthy weight guidelines have been developed at population levels, each person’s healthy weight range will vary and depend on factors such as age, sex, genetics, body frame, existing medical history, lifestyle habits, and weight as a young adult. Weight is only one of many determinants of health. Body mass index (BMI), which measures weight standardized for height, is often used as a measure of health risk. Although it does not measure body fat or body composition directly, research has shown BMI to correlate closely with other methods that directly measure body fat. It is beneficial to keep a steady weight as much as possible and control excessive weight gain over time, which is strongly associated with health risks.”
Get exercising and get the benefits
Choosing to engage in physical activity is great for helping maintain a healthy weight. You don’t have to train like an Olympic athlete to get the benefits.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends adults work their way up to 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic activity (like walking briskly), 75 minutes of vigorously intense aerobic activity (like jogging or running) or an equivalent mix of the two each week.
There are many health benefits of physical activity:
- Reach and maintain a healthy weight
- Reduce high blood pressure
- Reduce risk for type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke and several forms of cancer
- Reduce arthritis pain
- Reduce risk for osteoporosis and falls
- Reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety
According to the CDC, the amount of physical activity children and adolescents need varies by age.
- Ages 3 through 5 years need to be active throughout the day for growth and development.
- Ages 6 through 17 need to be active for at least 60 minutes every day, including aerobic activity (e.g., walking, running), muscle-strengthening (e.g., climbing, doing push-ups) and bone-strengthening (e.g., jumping, running).
A balanced, nutritious diet serves you well
Over time, eating processed, unnatural foods can make you gain weight and be harmful to your health and body. By choosing healthier meal and snack options, you can avoid the many health downsides of a poor diet.
The healthy eating plan from the Dietary Guidelines For Americans (dietaryguidelines.gov):
- Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products
- Includes a variety of protein foods such as seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, nuts, and seeds
- Features foods low in added sugars, sodium, saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol
It’s a lot easier to achieve a healthy weight if you take things slow at first and gradually work your way up to getting more physical activity and eating better foods. It’s age-old advice that will make you feel better in the short term and help you be healthier in the long run.
Healthy Choices | NDHHS
Healthy Weight | Harvard Public Health
Physical Activity | CDC
Health Eating | CDC
Dietary Guidelines for Americans | DGA
Hidden Sodium at the Grocery Store | Johns Hopkins Medicine