Nutrition and good physical condition

Nutrition and good physical condition

Why exercise?

Studies have shown that only about 15% of the Canadian population engage in sufficient physical activity on a regular basis – of this 65% are not active enough to keep their hearts healthy. Regular physical activity can help maintain a healthy weight while reducing your chances of developing a condition such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. If you’re not keen on doing strenuous workouts at the gym, you’ll still have the opportunity to find that there are plenty of fun ways to stay in shape while being active outdoors this summer. And when you’re having fun, you’re more likely to stick to an exercise plan that’s right for you! Even 30 minutes of exercise

This summer, there are plenty of other reasons you could indulge in physical activity. This is because exercise can help you:

  • improve your muscle tone;
  • release the stress;
  • improve the image you have of your body;
  • increase your energy and focus levels;
  • protect your bones;
  • stimulate your circulation;
  • improve your digestive health;
  • enjoy the pleasures of life and have a good social life.

Some ideas for physical activities

There is more than one way for you and your family to get enough physical activity to stay healthy. Here are some suggestions:

Health works! Walking is one of the easiest activities to keep the machine well oiled. All you need is a comfortable pair of shoes and a nice ride. Take your walk after lunch and dinner, get off the bus one stop before when you go to work, park in the spot farthest from the entrance to the mall or your workplace, or take the stairs instead of the elevator.

It’s your turn! When you were younger, you probably flew a kite or played Frisbee. Why not now? Once in the park, you may want to explore other activities that can encourage you and your family to have fun exercising.

Open a family fitness center. Get your family together for a night or on the weekend and make a list of activities everyone enjoys. Post it on the fridge with a calendar, and schedule evenings when you could try a new activity. For example, your list might include softball, biking, tennis, or basketball. A program of fun activities will benefit your family more than a list of TV shows …

Make way for sports! Most sports activities improve physical fitness, support heart and bone health, and help maintain a healthy weight. You don’t have to be a professional athlete to benefit from team or individual sports. Participating in individual or team recreational sports, such as baseball, tennis, soccer, cycling, swimming, or running, is a great way to improve your level of physical activity and your fitness. Team sports are also a great way to meet other people who want to stay healthy. For more information on organized individual or team sports, visit the recreation center or sports club nearest you.
Back to base …Scientific evidence indicates that even low-intensity daily activities have positive effects on health. This is important for people who have limited abilities due to medical conditions like arthritis. You can stay healthy through activities such as:

  • gardening and outdoor maintenance work;
  • recreational activities such as golf, tennis or bowling;
  • housework;
  • dance;
  • to go upstairs.

Nutritional advice

Everyone knows that to stay fit and healthy, you need to eat well. But what exactly do we mean by “eating well”? What does the body need to stay active?

One of the answers is glucose. Glucose is the body’s fuel, especially at the start of exercise. Even when you’ve been exercising for a while and your muscles get their energy from fat, glucose is still essential. It is the fuel for the human body: so don’t forget to refuel!

Where does glucose come from? Glucose derives its source from carbohydrates, hence the importance of adopting a balanced diet and eating lots of fruits and vegetables with grain-based foods (pasta, rice, bread, cereals). Remember to eat right at the right time, because it takes time to digest food.

Water is another cornerstone of healthy eating. Water is needed to allow nutrients to circulate in the body and to remove waste. In addition, the body sweats a lot during exercise, even swimming. You can absorb water from milk, juice, energy drinks … or even just by drinking a good glass of water!

Here is what you should eat and drink before, during and after exercise:

More than three hours before exercise

  • If you wish, eat a normal meal, as you will have plenty of time to digest it. Eat a balanced meal of lean protein and a good amount of carbohydrates (rice, spaghetti or bread), all accompanied by fruits, vegetables and water, or even milk or juice.
  • Drink plenty of fluids regularly (a glass or two every hour).

Just before exercise

  • Limit yourself to light, easy-to-digest snacks. Eat fruit or fruit-based snacks, possibly with a light carbohydrate snack (graham crackers, cereals).
  • Hydrate yourself enough to get enough water in your body, but avoid excess that will make you feel bloated or require you to take a break from exercise for bathroom breaks.

During exercise

  • Drink an average of one cup of liquid every 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Water is ideal if you are exercising for short periods of time, especially if you have eaten enough beforehand. On the other hand, for an exercise lasting more than an hour, you may want to boost your energy reserves by drinking energy drinks or juices mixed with water.

After exercise

  • If you plan to exercise again in the next 24 hours, eat foods high in carbohydrates within half an hour of your workout.
  • If you plan to exercise again in a day or two, be sure to get plenty of carbohydrate in your diet to keep your glucose stores to the max.

Special foods

How Much Protein, Vitamins, and Iron Do You Really Need to Stay Fit?

How much protein?

  • Despite what many active people believe, protein from foods like meat, chicken, eggs, or fish is not a major source of fuel for exercise.
  • Weightlifters and distance runners may need more protein than the Sunday athlete. Nevertheless, the food that we eat regularly from a variety of foods is more than enough for most of us.

Consume vitamins C and E

  • Experts have suggested that leading an active lifestyle produces free radical particles that can damage cells and genetic makeup (DNA).
  • Foods rich in antioxidants such as vitamins C and E should then be consumed to help repair the damage.
  • Foods rich in such vitamins are strawberries, oranges, grapefruit, kiwi fruit, olive oil, wheat germ and nuts.

Eat foods rich in iron

  • Studies have indicated that runners, especially females, are likely to have low levels of iron. This could be explained by the fact that runners eat less meat (rich in iron), so that they absorb less iron and that they consume fewer calories.
  • It is important to eat foods rich in iron such as dried fruits, spinach, fortified cereals and low-fat meat.

Other general dietary advice

Here are some simple tips to follow to reap the benefits of nutritious foods:

Start the day with a good breakfast. Especially as you start to train more, you’ll need morning fuel to be productive during and after work. Skipping breakfast will make you hungrier during the day, which will lead to you being more tolerant of unhealthy foods. Eat regularly and in smaller amounts: this is the best way to burn calories efficiently.

Always keep a bowl of fresh fruit on hand. Place a bowl of fruit on the kitchen table or on your desk at work.

Prepare your midday snack the night before. You’re more likely to plan nutritious and satisfying meals like this than if you have to whip up your breakfast early in the morning or grab something quick at work.


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