The Benefits of Diet and Exercise

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

The Combination of Exercise and Eating Right

You want to live long and you want to live well. How do you mange such a desirable demand in a “hurry up and go” society? More than 80% of women of the United States do not engage in recommended physical activity or eat the right kinds of foods. Physical fitness and proper nutrition benefit women of all ages.

The combination of exercise and eating right provides enormous benefits to you as a woman. Even if you have limitations, exercise needs to be a regular part of your life. Why should exercise be so important to you? Exercise and nutrition help fight off the following diseases that kill many women:

Heart Disease
  • As a result of exercise, the heart becomes stronger and larger, so that it can pump more blood at its maximum level and can sustain it longer with less strain.
  • Regular aerobic exercises, such as brisk walking, jogging, swimming, biking, dance and racquet sports are the best forms of exercise for lowering cholesterol levels and building a strong heart.
  • A heart healthy diet is a huge step toward preventing heart disease: oat bran, potassium, low sodium.
  • Reduce foods that contain large amounts of saturated and trans fat, sugar and salt.
  • Eat more fruits, vegetables, cereals, pasta, fish and lean meats.
  • Drink low-fat or fat-free milk instead of whole milk.
  • Bake, broil, roast and poach foods.
  • Limit intake of alcohol to a drink.
Diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes is increasing throughout the world as more people are eating high fat and cholesterol foods.
  • Aerobic exercise is proving beneficial for people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes: It increases sensitivity to insulin, lowers blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels and decreases body fat.
  • There are three categories of nutrition to consider: eating more starches (breads, cereals, starch vegetables), eating five fruits and vegetables everyday, eat sweets in moderation.


Osteoporosis
  • Physical activity is essential for slowing this progressive condition.
  • Bone density can be increased through tension to the muscle by doing weight bearing exercises.
  • High –impact weight –bearing exercises (ex: step aerobics) are very protective for premenopausal women.
  • Low-impact exercises improve balance and strength (ex:yoga).
  • A sensible balanced diet of many fruit, vegetables, beans, yogurt, bread and potatoes, with smaller amounts of lean meat, low fat cheese and oily fish.
  • Reduce intake of red meats, chocolate, caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.
Cancer
  • Moderate to regular exercise reduces the risk of colon, prostate and possible breast cancers.
  • Eating foods rich in chlorophyll will work as an anticancer agent to detoxify the body. Foods such as beet greens, collards, mustard green and nettles are rich in chlorophyll.
  • All forms of garlic have been shown to have adequate medicinal activity.
  • Pineapples contain bromelain that has been reported to have anti-tumor effects.
  • Unbeknownst to many, there are many cancer protectors setting on your spice rack. Cayenne pepper, ginger, rosemary, sage, and thyme have anti-inflammatory, anticancer, immune-stimulating and antioxidant properties.
An effective exercise program includes: aerobic exercise to keep your heart and vascular system healthy and fit, weight lifting to maintain your muscle and flexing to stay flexible. At what level of intensity should you be exercising? There are three areas of exercise: frequency, duration and intensity. For example, the frequency of aerobic exercise is from 3-5 times per week. The duration is 20-30 minutes per session. The intensity can be calculated by subtracting your age from 220 then multiplying it by .55 and then 220 times 80. The two products will be the range of your heart rate before and after a warm up. The frequency of weight training should be performed two times per week. The duration should be no more than thirty minutes. The intensity depends on the weight needed to challenge your muscles. Stretching is very vital to your health. Stretching reduces tension and makes you feel more relaxed. Promoting circulation, it increases your range of motion. The frequency can be everyday. Duration can be 10 to 30 minutes. The intensity is crucial. Stretch only to the point where you feel the stretch, not until you feel pain. If we don’t maintain our flexibility, we will be able to move less as we age.

Physical Activity and Proper Nutrition

A well balanced routine of physical activity and proper nutrition helps maintain a healthy body weight and lean muscle. Maintaining a healthy body weight will enable you to have more energy and need less sleep.

Consistent physical activity and certain foods consumed are connected to improving your psychological and emotional well being, such as mental vigor with reaction time, acuity and math skills.

The two combined may even enhance creativity and imagination. Some studies have linked exercise and diet to effective improvement in depressed individuals. Therefore, you will have a higher level of self-esteem and self-confidence.