The Dietary Guidelines forAmericans

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A m for Fitness

Aim for a healthful weight

Research clearly shows that being overweight greatly increases your risk for many diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. If you are overweight, combining a healthful eating plan with regular physical activity is the most effective way to lose weight and to sustain the loss (see sidebar: Diet and Exercise—The Perfect Pair, page 10). If you are at a healthy weight, your goal is to maintain that weight. Chapter 3 (page 47) provides further information on weight control.

Be physically active each day

Everyone—young and old—can improve their health by being more active. Choose activities that you enjoy and can do regularly. Although you will gain more health benefits with high-intensity exercise that lasts 30 minutes or more, low-to-moderate activities can be part of your routine. For some people, this means fitting more activity of daily living into your usual routine. This could include using the elevator less and using the stairs more, parking farther from rather than closer to your destination, gardening, or golfing without a cart. For others, a more structured program might be preferred, such as at a worksite or health club. Whichever you choose, the goal is to include at least 30 minutes of activity every day.

The need for regular physical activity is so important that the Surgeon General of the United States has issued a report entitled Physical Activity and Health, which has its own guidelines for achieving activity. They are the following:

  • Physical activity should be performed regularly. Include a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity (such as brisk walking) on most, if not all, days of the week. For most people, greater health benefits can be obtained by engaging in activity that is more vigorous or of longer duration.
  • Previously sedentary people should start with short durations of moderate activities and gradually increase duration or intensity.
  • Physical activity should be supplemented with strength-enhancing exercises at least twice a week to improve musculoskeletal health, maintain independence in performing the activities of daily life, and reduce the risk of falling.
  • Consult with a physician before beginning a new physical activity program if you have—or are at risk for—a medical condition (such as heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes), or if you are a man older than 40 years or a woman older than 50.

Build a Healthy Base

Let the Pyramid guide your food choices

Your body needs more than 40 nutrients and other substances for good health. No one food can give you all the nutrients your

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