We all have heard this age-old quote -“health is wealth”, but only a few consider health as the priority! For many of us, health is merely an absence of known disease, which is a completely wrong idea! As per the world health organization (WHO), ‘Health’ is defined as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’. In this way, it is obvious from the definition that even in an apparently normal individual, maintenance of all three components of health (physical, mental and social) is important for optimum functioning.
‘Physical activity’ has an irreplaceable and positive role in maintaining all three components of health to a considerable extent.
Health and physical activity
Physical activity is and should be mandatory for every individual regardless of body weight because it is pivotal in maintaining health. According to medical researches,some of the health benefits of physical activity are:
- Keep up a sound weight.
- Reduce risk of hypertension.
- Reduce risk for diabetes mellitus, heart attack, stroke, and a few forms of cancer.
- Reduce arthritic pain and associated disability.
- Reduce risk for osteoporosis and falls.
- Reduce symptoms of gloom and anxiety
For grown-ups, physical activity includes any recreational or leisure-time physical activity, transportation (walking or cycling), occupational, household chores, playing, games, sports or planned exercise, with regards to every-day, family and social network exercises. As per WHO and Centres for disease control and prevention (CDC), following are supposed to be the Global recommendations for physical activity:
- Adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week, or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.
- Aerobic activity should be performed in bouts of at least 10 minutes in duration.
- For extra benefits, adults should increase their moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes per week, or engage in 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.
- Muscle-strengthening activities should be done involving major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.
Also, physical activity is a key determinant of energy use and in this way crucial to energy balance and weight control. General physical action alongside a solid eating regimen is critical on the off chance that you are attempting to get in shape or keep up a sound weight. While getting more fit, more physical activity expands the quantity of calories your body utilizes for vitality or consumes off. The consuming physical activity, combined with diminishing the quantity of calories you eat, creates a “calorie deficit” that results in weight reduction.
Most weight reduction happens as a result of diminished calorie admission. However, evidence shows the best way to maintain weight reduction is to be engaged in the regular physical activity. In particular, physical activity lessens dangers of cardiovascular disease and diabetes past that delivered by weight diminishment alone.
Health and weight
Body weight is an integral part of health management. Body Mass Index (BMI) is used as a screening tool for underweight, overweight or obese. Body composition analysis (BCA) is used to analyze percentage composition of the body in terms of water, muscle, and fat. Fat loss is the main idea behind weight loss regimes.
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters. According to literature:
- If your BMI is less than 18.5, it falls within the underweight range.
- If your BMI is 18.5 to <25, it falls within the normal.
- If your BMI is 25.0 to <30, it falls within the overweight range
- If your BMI is 30.0 or higher, it falls within the obese range
People who are obese, compared to healthy weight, are at increased risk for many serious diseases and health conditions, which include:
- High blood pressure (Hypertension)
- High LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high levels of triglycerides (Dyslipidemia)
- Diabetes mellitus
- Coronary heart disease, Stroke, Gallbladder disease
- Steatohepatitis, Osteoarthritis
- Sleep apnea and breathing problems
- Risk of some cancers (endometrial, breast, colon, kidney, gallbladder, and liver)
- Low personal satisfaction at times
- Mental illness such as clinical depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders
- Body pain and difficulty with physical functioning
According to the literature, Obesity affects certain hormones in the body which in turn affect your mood, behaviour and physical activity. There is interdependency between stress and obesity. In short, weight gain adversely affects physical as wells as mental and social health.
Physical activity along with a healthy diet helps in losing and maintaining weight. Practically, in some cases it is difficult to lose weight, in such cases, a healthcare provider helps you learn more about your health habits and history in order to tell you whether certain behaviours, illnesses, genetics, medications, or psychological factors are making weight loss hard. Some illnesses, for example, Cushing’s disease, and polycystic ovary syndrome lead to weight gain. Drugs such as steroids and some antidepressants may also cause weight gain. The science continues to emerge on the role of other factors in energy balance and weight gain such as chemical exposures, environmental and psychological factors.
Weight loss tips
Every weight reduction journey has two things in common i.e. physical activity and diet control. However, there are two additional factors which are vital and these are the dedication and positive attitude towards your goal. Every fitness instructor or diet consultant must have advised you the best workout plan or diet chart for fat loss but only a few of us actually follow those instructions either because of lack of motivation, dedication/persistence or feasibility. Whenever you are discussing your workout or diet plan, be honest with your instructor, tell them what actually you follow, what is your need, what is not feasible for you, if you have any bone/muscle issue or underlying health issue tell them proactively and most importantly ‘do not hesitate to ask question’, do not jump into aggressive and vigorous exercises for quick result, keep it slow and steady if advised. Do not indulge in weight training and dieting just like that, be aware of our body, your medical conditions, and knowledge/experience of the trainer.
Here are some diet and weight management tips based to my individual knowledge and personal experience, which I personally love to follow:
- Drink plenty of water. At least 4 liters in a day, in all seasons. To achieve this goal, you can develop a habit of drinking water every 1 hour.
- Eat small meals at regular intervals, eat every 2 to 3 hourly. Total meals may comprise of 3 main meals and 3 small meals.
- Avoid starving and fasting and do not stay empty stomach for long.
- Cut down extra sugar and salt.
- Restrict salt intake to cooked vegetables only, no adding of salt in fruits, salad, curd or raita.
- Restrict sugar intake only to milk tea or coffee. Completely avoid other forms of sugar intake.
- Milk tea or green tea doesn’t make much difference. It is alright if you are having milk tea instead of green tea or vice-versa. Restrict it to 2 cups daily only.
- Restrict your ghee and oil intake. Avoid refined oils if possible.
- Avoid outside food, junk food, packaged food, instant food items as much as possible.
- Don’t drink carbonated soft drinks like Pepsi/coke/diet coke etc
- Fruit is the better option than fruit juice. Strict ‘NO’ to packaged fruit juices or tetra pack.
- Drink fruit juice only if it is freshly prepared in front of your eyes and that too without sugar.
- Our vegetarian diet lacks in Protein practically, so make sure your diet includes a good amount of protein in the form of milk, curd, pulses, sprouts, nuts etc.
- Once a week (cheat day) you can eat some fried food or exotic food of your choice but quantity should be very very small.
- The size of your meals should be based on your calorie requirement and calorie expenditure. Your diet should be optimized so that you can perform regular workout and weight training; it should not make you feel weak or lazy for the workout.
- Do not starve yourself, if you are too hungry eat salads or protein-rich food.
- Take proper sleep at knight.
- Our vegetarian diet is mostly lacking in vitamins, iron and essential elements so it is ok to take multivitamin or nutritional supplements after discussing with the physician.
- Do not indulge in an aggressive workout in which you are not comfortable and in unhealthy diet habits which are not approved medically or unrealistic to follow.
- While choosing your food items to go for locally grown or available food, grain, and vegetables.
- Do not get attracted towards fancy or imported food items because these are expensive and not beneficial in long run. Always choose easy to follow exercise type and food items because consistency and regularity are more important than occasional over-enthusiasm.
- Avoid chilled water, room temperature or lukewarm water is best for drinking.
The key of exercising and diet management is self-motivation, if you are educated about it and self-motivated, you can do it on your own but if you are not; you should definitely consult an expert or trainer. Remember one more thing that just like overeating, over exercising too is harmful to your health so always follow a balanced and guided, diet and workout plan!
Hope you find this article useful. Do write to me with any suggestion, question or feedback.
Stay healthy and happy!
Dr. Reena Mittal