By Anthony Barkley, M.Ed., Public Health Educator, Health Promotion and Wellness Department, Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center
You know that maintaining a healthy body weight is important to your overall well-being. But did you know that it can actually reduce stress on your body and improve everything from heart and lung function, to mood and memory, to hormones and metabolism?1 Managing your weight can also help prevent serious medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and some types of cancer.1
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as the rate of obesity increases across the United States, the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes increases as well.2 Don’t let your body weight weigh down your health. Adopt positive lifestyle habits to achieve permanent weight loss and prevent chronic disease. Start 2016 off right by making healthy food choices, engaging in regular exercise, and getting the recommended amount of sleep.
Food is fuel for the body. In order to keep your body functioning properly, you have to eat healthy and live a balanced lifestyle. Processed and prepared foods often contain high amounts of calories, sodium (salt), added sugars, and fat. These ingredients directly contribute to chronic disease. To achieve optimal health, eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods and follow these tips3:
- Increase the amount of fruits and vegetables consumed to at least half your plate
- Make at least half your grains whole grains
- Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk
- Choose foods with less sodium
- Avoid oversized portions
- Drink water instead of soda or sugary drinks
In addition to healthy eating, exercise can also reduce the risk of chronic disease. Engage in a combination of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise, muscle strengthening, and functional body movement activities that mimic your job-related tasks throughout the week. To enhance overall well-being, follow these training tips4:
- Engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise each week to reduce the risk of chronic disease or prevent weight gain
- Engage in at least 300 minutes of moderate-intensity or 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise each week to lose weight and keep it off after weight loss
- Include a variety of activities to get the most health benefits out of your training
Adequate sleep is an often overlooked lifestyle choice. Many view sleep as an indulgence and not a requirement for good health. However, lack of sleep is associated with obesity and many illnesses, such as diabetes, heart disease, and depression.5 To maintain a healthy lifestyle, follow these sleep tips6:
- Get 7-8 hours a day
- Go to bed at the same time and wake at the same time
- Sleep in a dark, quiet, and temperature-controlled room
- Remove electronic devices from the room
Weight management is critical to getting and staying healthy. Even a modest weight loss of 5 – 10 percent of your total body weight can help prevent or reduce your risk of chronic disease.1 Make 2016 the year you eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and get sufficient sleep. You can also check out the NMCPHC Health Promotion and Wellness Healthy Weight Toolbox for more information.
1 Harvard School of Public Health. Obesity Prevention Source. Health Risks.http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-consequences/health-effects/. Updated 2015. Accessed October 2015. 2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Division of Diabetes Translation. National Diabetes Surveillance System. Maps of Diagnosed Diabetes and Obesity in 1994, 2000, and 2013. http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/data/center/slides.html.Published January 2015. Accessed October 2015.
3 Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. U.S. Department of Agriculture. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2010/DietaryGuidelines2010.pdf. Published December 2010. Accessed October 2015.
4 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/pdf/paguide.pdf. Published October 2008. Accessed October 2015.
5 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sleep and Sleep Disorders. Sleep and Chronic Disease. http://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/chronic_disease.html. Updated July 2013. Accessed October 2015.
6 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sleep and Sleep Disorders. Sleep Hygiene Tips. http://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/sleep_hygiene.html. Updated December 2014. Accessed October 2015.