Obesity is fast becoming a leading cause of death in the United States, according to a study recently released by the Centers for Disease Control. Deaths attributed to poor diet and physical inactivity have gone up 25 percent in 10 years, rising to 400,000 deaths a year in 2000. In fact, the CDC predicts that these factors will soon overtake tobacco use as the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.
These shocking findings are going to act as a wake-up call to many Americans, predicts Andrew Flach, author
of Walk the Weight Away! (Healthy Living Books, $17.95). Alarms about the dangers of poor diet and physical inactivity have been going off for a while now, but this is a study that says it in clear terms: living your life this way can kill you.
Changing lifestyle habits may seem difficult to many, but Flach explains that there are simple things people can do to improve their health. Many people know that they need to be active but simply dont know how to begin, he says. In fact, many people have told me that they feel too embarrassed to join a gym because theyre not fit enough. But there are plenty of ways you can incorporate fitness into your everyday life, even if you havent exercised in years.
Flach has these simple suggestions for people who want to start leading a healthier life today:
Start at your own pace
If its been a while since you exercised, starting a big fitness program can seem impossible. Remember that its all right to start small. Little things like taking the stairs or parking farther away when you go to the store are great ways to get more exercise into your day. The more often you use your body, the closer youll get to having the confidence and stamina to start a workout program.
Small steps can take you a long way
Walking is a great exercise for weight loss and fitness. Its the most natural of all exercises, something weve been doing ever since we were toddlers. And the best part? Its free. Starting a walking group with friends is a great way to stay motivated. You can cheer each others progress and use the time to catch up on each others lives.
Spice up mealtime
Healthy food doesnt have to be flavorless. By keeping a large variety of herbs and spices on hand, you can liven up any meal. Experiment with adding zesty spices to your favorite healthy recipes, which will reduce your urge to add butter and other fats for flavor.
Can the soda and
save the calories
Sugar-rich soda adds useless calories to your diet. Just drinking water rather than soda can reduce your calorie intake by as much as 300-500 calories per day. Thats a pound of fat weight per week you can lose effortlessly.
Have confidence in your plans
Dont let past failures stand in the way of a healthy future. No matter what your past experiences with diet and exercise have been, you are capable of tremendous change. And remember not to give up if you miss a workout or slip up on your diet: just consider it a temporary setback and get right back on track the next day.
About the author: Andrew Flach, ACE, is a recognized authority on health and fitness and has written several books on the subject.
He lives in the New York City area. His most recent book, Walk the Weight Away!, is an 8-week walking and nutrition program with an innovative workbook feature that allows people to track their progress. It is available at booksellers everywhere, or direct from the publisher by calling 800-528-2550, ext. 201.