As the holiday season has started, individuals are faced with a plethora of tempting meal choices including high-fat foods and desserts. Historically, many individuals experience significant weight gain over the holiday season. Search trends are currently showing an increased public interest in healthy eating and exercise, indicating that individuals are seeking to combat this unfortunate tradition.
Many individuals think about diet and exercise only sporadically, but concerted efforts must be maintained on a consistent basis in order to achieve sustained results. The Healthy People 2020 program is a national, ten-year program that was launched in 2010 that aims to improve the health of those living in the United States. The overall goals are to improve health, increase the practice of healthy behaviors, improve quality of life, and decrease premature death from preventable disease. The program teaches individuals to make healthy lifestyle choices, including modifications in diet and exercise. The Healthy People 2010 Guidelines are congruent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In both, individuals are taught to consume a variety of nutrient dense foods including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, protein, and low-fat or fat-free dairy. The program encourages limiting saturated and trans fats, as well as cholesterol, added salt, and alcoholic beverages. They also recommend limiting caloric needs based on USDA recommendations to meet caloric needs according to age, current/desired weight, and gender. Any changes in caloric intake to meet a desired weight loss goal should be discussed with a health care professional.
The recommendations for physical activity vary according to age. Adults should seek to complete 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise/week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise/week. Any amount of exercise is considered beneficial. Optimally, exercise should occur in at least 10-minute intervals and be spread out over the course of the week.
Diet and exercise are often overlooked in our busy society. However, they are two of the most important aspects of preventative medical care. Proper diet and exercise can help to prevent obesity, heart disease, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, osteoporosis, and some types of cancer.
Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20e: Chapter 2: Promoting Good Health