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Is diet or exercise the key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle?

Did you know that being healthy is not all about exercise? A trio of doctors have recently reported that physical activity has little to do with tackling weight issues and it is time for us all to bust the “myth” that unhealthy eating can be counteracted by exercise1. Even though exercise may not be the key to a healthy lifestyle it is still recommended by health professionals to find the right balance between diet and exercise in order to maintain it1.  

What is a balanced diet?

NHS Choices2 state that, “when it comes to a healthy diet, balance is the key to getting it right. This means eating a wide variety of foods in the right proportions, and consuming the right amount of food and drink to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.”

It is recommended by the NHS3 that your diet consists of the following:

- Plenty of fruit and vegetables.

- Plenty of bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy (use wholegrain variants where possible).  

- Some milk and dairy foods (choosing lower-fat varieties where possible).

- Some meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein.

- Just a small amount of foods high in fat and sugar.

Staying active

As part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle it can also be just as important to ensure that you get enough exercise each day. Did you know that only 1 in 20 people are actually doing the right kind of activity they need to each week4? Change 4 Life recommends trying to build activity and exercise into your daily routine to help keep your heart healthy and reduce the risk of serious illness and to strengthen muscles and bones.

Depending on your age it is advised you take part in the following amount of activity:

- Adults need to be active for at least 150 minutes each week.

- Kids aged five to 16 need to be active for at least 60 minutes each day.

- Kids under five need three hours of activity a day.

BMI

You can assess your levels of health by calculating your body mass index or as it is more widely known as ‘BMI’. Calculating your BMI can tell you where you are in terms of whether you are at a healthy or unhealthy weight by deriving a value from your mass (weight) and height.

How can I work out my BMI?

To work out your BMI simply divide your weight in kilograms (kg) by your height in metres (m) then divide your answer by your height again to get your BMI5. For example if you weigh 70kg and you’re 1.75m tall, divide 70 by 1.75 which equals 40. Then divide your answer of 40 by 1.75 which equals 22.9 (your BMI). Usually a BMI that is between 18.5 -25 is considered a ‘healthy weight’, 18.5 and under is considered ‘underweight’ and 25+ is considered ‘overweight’6.        

Sources:

  1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-32417699
  2. http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/Healthyeating.aspx
  3. http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/1127.aspx?CategoryID=51  
  4. http://www.nhs.uk/change4life/pages/get-going-every-day.aspx 
  5. http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/how-can-i-work-out-my-bmi.aspx?CategoryID=51
  6. http://www.nhs.uk/Tools/Pages/Healthyweightcalculator.aspx
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