1. At least 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity, if over 18 years old
These could include: brisk walking, bicycling, continuous swimming, skating, dancing, pushing a wheelchair, low impact aerobics, Tai chi, home gym exercises, gardening, standing fishing, rowing, home cleaning, play ping pong, or doubles tennis. These are activities to achieve the expected health benefits, with a high degree of safety, reducing the probability of pain or injury. With these, the body warms up, slightly increasing breathing and heart rate, but the person can speak in long sentences while conducting the activity without looking or feeling agitated.
2. At least 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity
These could include: jogging, running, jumping rope, playing recreational sports like soccer, basketball, tennis, or fitness activities such as cycling classes (spinning), or high-impact aerobics, or long distance or mountain bike riding, walking with backpacks, hiking, martial arts, etc. People should be cautious with these more intense activities because of increased likelihood of injury. These should be done when prepared physically for several weeks or months, otherwise, moderate activities should be preferred.
3. Muscle-strengthening activities at least twice a week
These activities help muscles and bones stay strong, they improve posture and prevent disease such as osteoporosis. In these activities the muscles work against resistance as when pushing or pulling something. People must do exercise for the arms, torso and legs, for example, lifting and carrying a market bag, do exercises like crunches, push-ups, bars, stair climbing, martial arts, fitness classes like Pilates or weight routines.
4. If a child or youth under 18 years of age, at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity
At least 60 minutes of daily physical activity combining moderate cardiovascular activities such as brisk walking or cycling; and vigorous cardiovascular activities like running or playing sports. Muscle strengthening exercises should be included, as well as flexibility at least 3 times a week. Fun and games should always be part.
5. If over 60 years old, 150 minutes of physical activity a week, not forgetting strength and balance activities
The goals are similar to those of adults, but when unable to perform the recommended amount of physical activity due to health conditions, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow. Activities which improve balance and strength to prevent falls and increase independence in daily activities should be promoted.
6. Limit time watching TV, on the Internet or playing video games to less than 2 hours a day
To remain sitting or in one position for a long time in front of screens is harmful to your health. Limit the time spent in these activities. Find activities where your body can move.
7. Avoid the use of motorized transport; find a way to be transported on you own
Avoid using motorized transport. Seek to walk, ride a bike, use roller skates, skateboards or paddle as transportation. Look for hiking paths or cycle routes near you and use them.
8. Prevent the potential risks of physical activity
Physical activity is very safe for most of the population. However, pain or injury to bones, muscles or joints can occur and in rare cases, cardiac abnormalities such as chest pain and including heart attacks. The best way to prevent them is to begin with light activities and progress slowly to more demanding activities. Becoming more physically active takes time and perseverance. Please do not hurry! If you have questions about your health before you start being active, consult your doctor.
9. Start increasing your activity level now. It’s easier than you think.
Walk when you can. Get off the bus before your stop and use stairs instead of elevators. Reduce the time seated. Make active breaks at home or at work for a few minutes every hour. Play with your children or relatives. Prefer walking, rollerblading or cycling for short stretches. Start walking for 10 minutes at a time and gradually increase the time. Use hiking paths, cycle routes or walking routes near you. Look for physical activity classes in your community to encourage your engaging in them. To try it once does not mean committing for the long run. Increase the frequency and time of physical activities you are already doing.
10. How to be more physically active
What is most important is to be convinced of wanting to be more physically active. However, there are some strategies that foster the possibility of accomplishing it: Find activities you enjoy and that you feel comfortable performing. Physical activity should be enjoyed and fun. Set realistic goals and progressively advance; changes occur step by step. Record the activities you carry out daily, therefore demonstrating progress. Involve other family members or friends; company aids in the change. Evaluate the difficulties that come up and seek solutions to overcome them.
What is a Healthy Weight?
Healthy weight is that which allows us to have good health and quality of life. It is also understood as the weight values within which there is no risk to the health of the person.
There are reliable methods to find out if your weight is healthy. One is to determine your body mass index (BMI), which describes the relationship between weight and height. To calculate BMI you need to know your weight and height and apply a simple mathematical formula to them. This index allows a better estimate of body fat and not just weight in kilograms.
How do I know if I have a healthy weight?
To calculate BMI you need to know the weight in kilograms and height in meters squared. Then you apply a simple mathematical formula of dividing weight by height squared: BMI = weight (kg) / height squared (m2)
A person weighs 64 kg and measures 1.5 meters: 64 / 1.5 x 1.5 = 28.44. This data indicates that the person’s BMI (28.44) is in the overweight category.
This formula does not apply to women who are pregnant and should be adjusted if the person has some degree of edema (fluid retention)
Criteria for BMI Evaluation:
• If your BMI is less than 18.5, it is in the “thinness or underweight” category.
• If your BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9, it is in the “normal” category or healthy weight.
• If your BMI is between 25.0 and 29.9, it is in the “overweight” category.
• If your BMI is 30.0 or above, it is in the “obesity” category.
“Underweight,” “normal,” “overweight” and “obesity” are terms used to refer to different ranges of body weight. Obesity and overweight characterize weight ranges exceeding what is considered healthy for a given height, underweight describes body weight less than what is considered healthy.
Another method that can be used is waist circumference, which is a useful measure to determine the health risks associated with weight. There is evidence that the concentration of fat in the abdomen and waist is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
This measurement is taken at the highest point of the hipbones and measuring the waist above these points.
How do I know how my waist circumference measurement is?
With data on sex and waist circumference you can tell if you are at greater health risk. Abdominal obesity is considered if you:
• are female and your waist circumference measurement is greater than 80 cm
• are male and your waist circumference measurement is greater than 90 cm
Excess abdominal fat is serious, because it puts you at greater risk for conditions related primarily to obesity, including type 2 diabetes, high blood cholesterol, high triglycerides, high blood pressure and coronary artery disease.
If your BMI is outside the “normal” or healthy weight and if your waist circumference is in excess of the ranges given, it is important to seek advice with your doctor, dietitian or specialist about how to reach a healthier body weight. These people will support you in estimating the risks associated with your health and help you design a meal plan for weight loss and provide practical recommendations on physical daily activity.
Maintain a healthy weight
Scientific research shows that healthy eating and regular physical activity have positive effects for maintaining your weight long term. According to experts in the field, weight control is about achieving a balance: to balance the amount of calories you consume with the number of calories your body uses or “burns.”
− Caloric balance is like a scale. To be balanced and maintain your body weight, calories consumed (from foods) must be balanced with calories expended (for normal body functions and physical activity).
− Calories burned = food and beverage
− Calories expended = bodily functions (breathing, digestion, metabolism) and physical activity
How do I know if I have caloric balance?
If your weight is stable, you have caloric balance. If you need to gain weight or lose weight, in order to achieve your goal you need to tip the balance in one direction or another.
To estimate how many calories you consume now, begin to write down the foods and drinks you consume each day. By writing down what you eat and drink, you will realize what you consume and you will be more aware of it. It is also recommended to write down your physical activity every day and how long you practice. Get pencil and paper to start using these simple and useful tools.
− The food variety helps your balance and health. No single food provides all the nutrients the body needs. In your food list, check the variety: how many different types of food being consumed.
− The amount of calories you consume during the day is important, each food item counts.
− The foods that provide the most calories are those with higher fat and sugar. To maintain a healthy weight, avoid calorie-dense foods, and avoid sugary drinks.
− Portion size also matters; large food portions have more calories.
− Saturated fats and trans fats are harmful to health. Limiting these fats helps control the calories in food and prevent disease risks. Foods rich in saturated fats are red meats and whole milk dairy products, coconut oil and palm oil. Trans fats are found in hardened vegetable fat, butter, margarine and processed products such as biscuits, cookies, cakes.
− A greater amount of fruits and vegetables in the diet helps caloric balance because they are foods low in calories but high in fiber and water, which help you feel full.
− Limit the amount of salt and fat when preparing meals. Select herbs and spices that enhance the flavor of foods by using for example lemon, basil, coriander, bay leaf, spearmint etc.
Physical activity and healthy weight
The body requires calories for normal operation and for physical activity. Physical activity is any bodily movement that makes the body work. Daily physical activity of a person is divided into several areas: the activity performed during the working day; the activity performed while being transported or commuting; the activity performed at home as part of the daily chores; and recreational activity made in spare time.
It is important to reflect on the physical activity you do in these various areas and propose a plan to increase the level of physical activity. For example, to use the stairs rather than the elevator at your place of work would in itself represent a change, and a greater expenditure of calories.
People should choose the activities they most like and which they can perform. Physical activity in any of the areas of daily life helps to tip the balance by increasing calories expended daily. It is good to choose something that is pleasurable and feasible in order to not abandon it easily.
In general, we recommend 150 minutes or more per week of (moderate) physical activity or 75 minutes per week of (vigorous) physical activity, plus muscular strengthening exercises twice a week.
A healthy lifestyle requires balance in the food you eat, beverages you drink, in the manner of carrying out daily activities and the amount of physical activity or exercise to include in your daily routine. The final balance test is whether you increase, maintain or lower your weight. For best results, consult your doctor or nutritionist to give you advice on this process.
Tips for healthy weight in the family:
− Share healthy weight information with your family
− Promote recreation plans and activities that increase physical activity in family: walks, hikes and bike paths
− Eat breakfast at home every day and if possible with the family
− Eat at home, limit fast foods, restaurant dining and seek to have a family meal at the table.
− Encourage your children to stay hydrated, promote water consumption. Avoid soda and sugary drinks
− Participate in the purchase and preparation of food: Allow children to participate in the selection of menus, fruits, vegetables and in their preparation.
− Control the time that children engage in passive activities: use of computer, video games and television.
− Monitor weight regularly and growth of children. If you have questions or are concerned about your child’s weight, consult your health service for counseling and treatment.
To lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume. Remember that the amount of daily calories and their excess can lead to weight gain.
In order to reduce the weight it is therefore important to reduce calories consumed as well as increase caloric expenditure through physical activity. The best way is to start changing habits and lifestyles already in place, making small changes each day until these changes become part of the daily routine. Be realistic, consistent and persistent, and be patient are key tips to follow.
Changes should preferably be achieved with the assistance of medical health professionals and nutritionists.
Recommendations to consume fewer calories
− Reduce the size of the portions, the person may usually eat all kinds of food (if no dietary restrictions), but should monitor the amount of each food served on the plate.
− Limit foods and drinks very dense in calories, which are foods high in simple sugars and fat, especially saturated fat. Avoid sugary drinks, sweets, desserts and bakery foods and biscuits that are usually calorie dense.
− Be aware of what you eat and check food labels for calories and nutrients in the food.
− Increase the amount of fruits and vegetables you usually eat. In addition to fruits, vegetables and whole grains have a low or no fat content and are rich in fiber and other nutrients such as vitamins and minerals.
− Prefer lean meats and low-fat dairy products
− Opt for baking, roasting or boiling, or steamed, rather than fried preparations.
− Limit foods and beverages away from home and fast food. Opt for healthier options when it comes to eating in restaurants.
Recommendations to burn more calories
− The person who needs to lose weight needs to increase level of physical activity.
− Most people who want to lose weight need at least 300 minutes a week of moderate physical activity to lose and maintain weight significantly.
− A relatively high volume of physical activity is required, equivalent to walking 45 minutes a day at 6 km/hour or jogging 22 minutes a day at 10 km/hour.
− Since there is great variation between people and their capabilities and conditions for physical activity, it is important that the information be provided by a professional in the area.
Why do Excess Weight and Obesity Affect my Health?
It is very important to note that excess weight and obesity are not just a cosmetic issue but they also affect health and quality of life of people.
In simple terms obesity means being overweight due to an excess of body fat. If a person is in BMI overweight category, weight reduction will probably prevent the risk of developing other health problems.
An overweight or obese person has a higher risk of:
− Cardiovascular disease
− Musculoskeletal disorders such as osteoarthritis
− Some types of cancer
− To reduce the risk of suffering from these diseases, the key is to have a healthy lifestyle to allow you to maintain, over time, healthy weight, with good eating habits and regular physical activity.