Most women are busy these days. They have less time than they used to for shopping and planning what to eat. However, the health benefits of eating a balanced and varied diet, low in fat, high in fiber, with plenty of fruits and vegetables, hasn’t changed.
For most Americans, the challenge is not to find enough food but rather to make wise choices about what foods to eat. Much of the nutrition advice in magazines, books, and TV talk shows, is contradictory and unproven. You need to eat the right amounts and balance of food to reduce your risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and other health problems. A safe place to start when deciding what to eat is to use the food pyramid to visualize your daily food intake to ensure a healthy diet. The basis of healthy eating is in plenty of breads, cereals, rice, and pasta. These foods form the largest part of the pyramid its base. Next come vegetables and fruits, followed by meat and dairy products, which are needed in smaller amounts. Go easy on fats, oils, and sugar. They appear at the top of the pyramid because they should be used sparingly.
Try to meet the minimum requirements recommended in the food pyramid each day. Remember that no single food can supply all the nutrients in the amounts you need for good health. So eat a wide variety of foods, in these proportions, to ensure you get all you need.
Women have different nutritional needs than men. Because women are usually smaller than men, they tend to have a lower metabolism, need fewer calories, and have more body fat than men. Also nutritional requirements change as women age. Older women have a lower metabolism than younger women and therefore require fewer calories to maintain body weight.
Shifting your focus from pounds lost to health gained is different from going on and off a diet or fitness plan. It’s important that you think of these positive changes as a lifelong commitment to a healthier lifestyle. Eat right and exercise more because you want to feel better and live longer. Make physical activity and all the benefits it brings an important and permanent part of your daily life.
A Sensitive Issue
Eating is a sensitive issue for many women. It can be hard to manage your weight without making it an obsession. Some women may develop troublesome eating behaviors, such as restrictive dieting, bingeing, or purging, in relation to a stressful event, an illness, personal appearance, or in preparation for athletic competition. Highly restrictive diets often make people feel deprived, which may lead to binge eating.
According to Canada Pharmacy, activity is extremely important throughout a woman’s lifetime, particularly as she gets older. Regular exercise benefits the heart and bones helps regulate weight and contributes to a sense of overall well being. Benefits can be gained even from low-intensity activity, like gardening.
The reasons for inactivity aren’t hard to figure out. Most of us have jobs where we sit much of the time, so chances are limited to be physically active at work. We also rely heavily on modern, labor-saving devices like cars, appliances, and power tools to spare us manual effort.
Exercise is thought to have a positive effect on mood and stress reduced by Canadian Pharmacy drugs. During exercise, hormones called endorphins are released in the brain. These “feel-good” hormones are involved in the body’s positive response to stress. The mood-heightening effect can last for several hours, according to some experts. It helps to pick activities that you like.
For physical activities that will do the best job of reducing stress, consider the following:
- Do something noncompetitive such as very brisk walking, aerobic dancing, jogging, weight lifting, or swimming laps.
- Easy or moderate intensity is most relaxing (you don’t need strain or pain).
- Being outdoors in a pastoral setting.
- Exercise in quiet surroundings.
- Soak in a warm bath after exercising to extend the relaxing benefits.
Just like muscles, bones decrease in size and strength if you don’t use them. Weight-bearing exercises (like very brisk walking, jogging, aerobic dancing, tennis, weight lifting, stair stepping) help increase bone mass. Exercise stimulates the cells responsible for making new bone and gets them to work overtime. In the past 20 years, studies have shown that bone tissue lost from lack of use can be rebuilt with weight-bearing activity. In women who have gone through menopause, moderate exercise preserves bone mass in the spine, helping reduce the risk of fractures.
An exercise program should start slowly and build up to more strenuous activities. Women who already have osteoporosis of the spine should be careful about exercise that jolts or puts weight on the back, as it could cause a fracture.
It’s tempting to want to undo months or years of inactivity overnight. But it can’t be done. Increase your level of activity gradually over a period of several months. Stay on a regular schedule. Don’t be a “weekend warrior” and overdo it on weekends to make up for lack of exercise during the week. The quickest way to wreck your exercise plan and become inactive again is to suffer an injury.
Serious injuries can result if you exercise too hard or too long. The “no pain, no gain” school of exercise is out of date. If you feel pain, back off and take it easy.
Know the warning signs of heart problems. Stop exercising immediately if you suffer a cold sweat, shortness of breath, sudden dizziness, chest pain, pressure or discomfort and call your healthcare provider or 911.
If you have concerns about what exercise is safe for you, consult your healthcare provider before starting an exercise program.
Sources: U.S. Food and Drug Administration and The National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion