Wellness Corner: Nutrition and Exercise

Nutrition is a fundamental pillar of human life and the development across the entire lifespan. Proper food and good nutrition are essential for survival, physical growth, mental development, performance and productivity, and health and well-being. Nutritional well-being depends upon food and nutrient security; care for the vulnerable; health for all; and a safe environment. Good health is as essential to nutritional well-being as good nutrition is crucial for maintaining healthy growth and development.

Nutrition and physical activity are an important part of a healthy childhood. Balanced nutrition and physical activity have positive effects not only on physical health but also on children’s growth, mood, quality and quantity of sleep, and the ability to learn. Studies have shown that physical activity: helps children to be fit and healthy; improves self-esteem; and decreases the risk of serious illnesses, like heart disease and stroke.

In terms of nutrition, although hunger and malnutrition still remain among the most devastating problems facing the majority of the world’s poor and needy, overweight and obesity have reached epidemic proportions globally. Women, generally, have higher rates of obesity than men, but men have higher rates of overweight than women. Rapid changes in diets and lifestyles, resulting from industrialization, urbanization, economic development, and market globalization are having a significant impact on the nutritional status of the populations. While industrialization and urbanization improve the standards of living and accessibility to services, they also brought with them consequences, in terms of inappropriate dietary patterns and decreased physical activities and a corresponding increase in nutritional and diet-related diseases.

Experts recommended that adults should be as lean as possible within the normal range of body weight; be physically active as part of everyday life; limit consumption of food and drink that promote weight gain; eating of mostly foods of plant origin; limit or avoid the intake or red and processed food; and limit of alcoholic drinks., among others.

Studies have shown that not eating right nor getting enough exercise means having the greater risk of developing serious health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and some types of cancer. Poor habits (or poor diet and too much TV) and lack of exercise are unhealthy behaviours that often begin in childhood or adolescence and can increase the likelihood of risk for serious health problems. In addition to unhealthy personal lifestyles, poor working conditions, such as long working hours and high occupational stress, can put some workers at high risk for cardio-vascular diseases.

Although the data showed a not so promising environment for workers, worksite health promotion programs are found to be an effective way to improve workers’ nutritional habits, promote physical activity and reduce obesity.∎

Further readings:

WHO. Nutrition for health and development;jsessionid=95B8925F6F371C4FF8BF87B321E28719?sequence=1 

Why nutrition education matters 

WHO Europe. Nutrition, physical activity and the prevention of obesity 

WHO’s Global strategy on diet, physical activity and health: The process behind the scenes 

Brooklyn Pulse. Exercise and good nutrition 

Singh, et al. (1999). Peak performance through nutrition and exercise 

Herbalife. An expert’s guide to reaching your fitness goals. 

Effects of nutrition and exercise health behaviors on predicted risk of cardiovascular disease among workers with different body mass index levels

Sports nutrition 

Leite et al (2009). Effects of physical exercise and nutritional guidance on metabolic syndrome in obese adolescents 

Exercise and nutrition 

Nutrition and physical activity 

World Cancer Research Fund International. (2007). Food, nutrition, physical activity, and the prevention of cancer: A global perspective 

Diet, exercise or diet with exercise 

Impact of aerobic and anaerobic exercise training on oxidative stress and antioxidant defense in athletes 

TOWARDS A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE. Xavier Ateneo community members happily strike a pose after a "fun walk and aerobics" event at the main campus. Supplied photo. 

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