We all know that diet and exercise are the most important factors to be healthy and in good shape.
But if that result is not appealing enough, here is another benefit: eating healthy and exercising are also a form of heart disease prevention.
I was reading a magazine recently, that stated something like: "To keep the heart in good health we need to focus on increasing the energy consumption by doing healthy physical activity, besides eating the right foods, but there is an idea of physical activity that is similar to that of drug therapy, which is mistakenly considered more documented. Physical activity, however, if conducted on a regular basis, is like a medicine".
Diet and Exercise 30 min a Day
The same magazine was saying that with 30 min of physical activity a day we can highly reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Diet and Exercise Benefits
Walking, which is the easiest physical activity, provides the following benefits, assuming that you do it for at least 30 to 60 minutes, 3 to 5 times a week:
- Reduction of cardiovascular risk factors such as diabetes, hyperlipidemia, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, obesity
- Prevention of osteoporosis, because physical activity stimulates bone mineralization
- Prevention and support against anxiety and depression disorders, due to the secretion of endorphins, the feel-good hormones
- Preventive action against some forms of cancer (colon and breast cancer) because sport strengthens the immune system, activating the colon and reducing overweight
All this thanks to the ability of heart and lungs to use oxygen to produce energy, and to remove it from the blood by making organs work more and with less effort.
Don't just do-it-yourself though, don't start running/biking/swimming like crazy out of the blue.
It is important to do a medical examination before you start your diet and exercise. Always stop if you experience sharp pain or tightness in the chest, stomach pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, tachycardia, excessive fatigue or severe headache.
These are usually signs that something is not right and you shouldn't push your body that far.
About the Diet
When it comes to heart disease prevention, one of the best things we can do is follow a healthy diet to keep our blood levels, especially cholesterol levels, within the healthy range.
Those who practice sport should follow a balanced diet, but it also needs to be proportionate to the sport they play. It's not healthy to eat too much, but it's also not recommended to run out of energy.
Try to calculate your caloric needs based on gender, age, intensity and duration of physical activity
Remember that you need proteins for the muscles (to develop them and to repair the damaged fibers).
Carbohydrates are the source of energy in the first phase of physical activity, while fat is the reserve of energy used for aerobic activities of long duration.
Food Balance for Sport Activity (carbs-protein-fat)
As diet and exercise have to work together for heart disease prevention, the question comes natural: which foods should I eat when I do sports or physical activity?
If you're training your strenght and you are doing weight lifting to build muscle, then you need a high protein intake to promote muscle growth. This article that I was reading suggested a 55-25-20 diet type (55% carbs, 25% protein, 20% fat).
Honestly, I think a 40-40-20 diet works best, at least for me. If you tend to gain weight easily, definitely go for a 40-40-20.
For other sports that require speed and sprints like athletics, biking, swim race, ski race, long jump etc. it's important to have lots of energy, which translates into higher carbs intake in your diet.
Carbs provide quick and long-lasting energy, therefore the best diet for these kinds of sport is a 60-20-20 balance.
The last type of physical activity is resistance. For sports like long distance running, biking, swimming, cross country ski, you need more carbs and fats to guarantee lots of energy reserve, and low-fat protein foods like milk, yogurt, lean meat, ham, eggs, fish and legumes.
The balance of this type of diet should be 50-15-25
What to Drink?
The final step of this diet and exercise guideline is about drinking. What and how much should we drink?
Water is the essential drink for pre and post workout or exercise, but not during exercise.
This may sound shocking to you, but here is the reason: drinking during exercise increases sweating (with possible further loss of minerals) and it may cause cramps, muscle fatigue and lower muscle response.
So what to do when you're at gym sweating like crazy, craving a glass of water?
Well, I don't care if I sweat (you know, showers are fortunately available!). Actually I am lucky, I don't sweat at all, maybe because they keep the temperature quite low at the gym where I go...but anyways...I like to have my bottle when I work out.
I don't drink plane water, I mix it with something called Xtend, which contains minerals and glutamine, very useful to recover fast during exercise.
Another good advice is to drink vitamin C, like orange juices (made from real oranges) to increase immune system, always at risk for who practices sport activity. In fact breathing with your mouth wide open increases the chances to catch viruses and germs.
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