When we eat more calories than we burn off through daily activities and exercise, the extra calories are stored as extra weight. Being overweight can increase the risk of chronic disease. Recent research also shows that obesity increases the risk for cancers of the colon and breast in postmenopausal women, as well as cancers of the pancreas, kidney, prostate and endometrium.
Physical activity plays a vital role in helping us reach and stay at a healthy weight. Regular exercise burns calories, builds muscle and helps the body run more efficiently. In addition, there is now scientific evidence that exercise itself possesses anti-cancer benefits. Regular physical activity has been shown to protect against colon cancer, and it probably lowers the risk for lung and breast cancers as well.
You can start seeing the benefits of exercise almost immediately. The immune system gets a boost and blood pressure decreases. And you don't need equipment, a gym membership or hours of free time. Research suggests that any amount of regular physical activity is far better than none.
If you haven't exercised in a while, get your doctor's OK before starting any program. He will be able to help you find an activity level that's right for you.
To maintain a healthy weight, be physically active. Snack on vegetables and fruits. They are full of fiber, which fills you up and leaves you less hungry. Once you are used to eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, you'll be stronger when standing up to cravings for fatty, salty or sugary snacks. Plus, you'll be getting a healthy mix of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.
Order the small. American portion sizes have gotten out of control. Keep that in mind when you eat out or buy refreshments at a movie or ball game. Ordering the smallest size can help you eat until satisfied, not stuffed.
Eat mindfully. At mealtimes, turn off the television or computer and put down the magazine. Research shows that "unconscious" eating generally means overeating. Pay attention to why you are eating. Is it boredom, stress or sadness instead of hunger?
Work a little exercise into your day. Go about household chores or outdoor jobs with a bit more spring in your step. Everything from vacuuming and mopping to washing the car and pushing a lawn mower can give you a workout, if you do it energetically. At home or out, use the stairs as often as you can. Walk to the corner market for bread instead of taking the car.
Find activities you enjoy. There's a world of things you can do to get your blood pumping, your energy level up and your cancer risk down. Keep in mind that exercise makes a great social activity.