When it comes to preventing obesity, much of the power lies in our hands with basic lifestyle changes. The following are five examples of habits that go a long way toward preventing weight gain and obesity, as well as improving overall health and well-being.
1. Get Enough Sleep Every Night
Studies have shown that getting enough sleep on a regular basis improves overall health, including preventing obesity. How much is enough? Most studies have shown that seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep per night are required to reap the health benefits of good sleep.
Chronic sleep deprivation makes the body think it is under chronic stress, and in response, the body releases stress hormones such as cortisol, which is known to contribute to weight gain. Conversely, getting enough sleep quite literally helps the body rest and relax, and cortisol levels drop—and with them, the attendant risk of weight gain.
2. Move More
Increasing your level of physical activity is imperative for treating obesity, and helps ward off weight gain.
As added benefits, those who move more throughout the day are less likely to develop cardiovascular disease, cancer, dementia, debilitating arthritis, and a host of other ailments.
How much physical activity should you aim for? As much as possible. Recent studies have shown that sitting for as long as 2 hours at a time can negate the benefits of 20 minutes of organized exercise, and a sedentary lifestyle is a greater risk factor for cardiovascular disease (including heart disease and stroke) in women than smoking!
Most national and international guidelines recommend getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week. This can translate into 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five times per week, for instance. However, as noted above, staying in motion as much as possible throughout the day is key for maintaining health.
Some easy ways to increase daily physical activity: take the stairs instead of the elevator, park farther away, walk to your mailbox instead of driving up to it, do housework or otherwise move around during TV commercials, and stand or walk while talking on the phone.
3. Eat Vegetables–Lots of Them
Like physical activity, a diet that is loaded with whole fruits and vegetables can both prevent and treat obesity, accelerating weight loss in those who are trying to lose weight—and is also important for preventing cancer and cardiovascular disease.
A recent large study conducted by researchers in the United Kingdom led investigators to recommend at least seven servings of vegetables and fruits every day due to the health benefits and longevity seen with the increased number of fruit-and-veggie servings. When it comes to whole vegetables and fruits, more truly is better!
4. Don’t Drink Soda or Other Sugared Beverages
Decades of research have shown that sugar consumption is absolutely and directly linked to the rise of the obesity epidemic. And one of the most common vehicles for sugar delivery is via sugared beverages such as sodas, juices, sports drinks and caffeine and energy drinks (which come with an added set of health risks due to their caffeine content or other “energy-inducing” ingredients).
A typical 12-ounce can (which, nowadays, is a relatively small size) of cola contains over eight teaspoons of sugar. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), women should limit their daily intake of added sugar to no more than six teaspoons, and men to no more than nine teaspoons.
5. Walk the Dog
A number of studies have now shown that having a pet provides a number of health benefits. Dogs in particular seem to encourage their guardians to exercise more and get more daily physical activity in general. In one large study, dog walkers were far more likely to meet the national recommendations for moderate-to-vigorous physical activity than those who did not walk their dog or did not have a dog at all. And this results in lower body mass index (BMI), with lower rates of overweight and obesity, for dog walkers. Other studies have found that when people with dogs start walking with their pet, both the dog and the dog guardian lose weight!
source: About Health