When you make the decision to improve your physical wellbeing, what is the first step that you need to take? What is the first change to make? Which is more important, exercise or nutrition? The answer is that they are both important, and they are both major factors in your physical and mental health. For example, if you need to get fit and you only focus on changing your eating habits – with little or no focus on changing your exercise habits – you never will be able to achieve the level of fitness that you want. Likewise, if you commit to an intense exercise regime but continue to eat unhealthy food, you won’t have the energy or stamina to keep it up for any length of time.
To achieve optimal wellness, you need to work on both exercise and nutrition in tandem. Leaving one or the other neglected can have serious – and even dangerous – effects on your overall health.
Most Americans don’t get near their weekly recommended amount of exercise. While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends five hours of physical activity per week for maximum health benefits, most people in the United States don’t even get half of that amount.
Even moderate exercise can have enormous benefits for your health. Not only does regular exercise improve your stamina, strength, and mobility, but it also helps to prevent a number of health concerns and diseases. Regular exercise reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke – and even certain types of cancer.
Not having the right exercise habits makes you a more likely candidate for all of these health concerns, but not all of the effects of lack of exercise are physical. Depression and anxiety are mental issues which can both be alleviated by exercising on a regular basis.
Exercise is an extremely important contribution to your health and well-being, but on the flip side of the same coin is nutrition. In this era of processed, cheap foods, the majority of people don’t get the solid nutrition that they need. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins are often ignored in favor of more easily accessible ‘fast food’ options. Your nutritional needs are probably not being met like they should; and if you are pursuing an active lifestyle, your nutritional needs will be even greater than those of the average person.
While an inactive person requires around 1,500 – 2,000 calories per day, a professional athlete may need two times that amount. Because the food that you eat is the fuel that gets you through the day, you can’t expect your body to work properly without the proper nutrition. Just like you wouldn’t try to take a cross-country road trip without putting gas in your car, you shouldn’t try to make any big changes to your exercise program without first adjusting the way you eat. If you aren’t sure how you should be eating in concert with your lifestyle, ask your doctor or nutritionist for advice.
Exercise and nutrition are both important steps to take when you are building a healthy lifestyle. In fact, they are the building blocks of wellness. When used properly, diet and exercise will have a huge impact on your mental wellness, physical performance, and overall quality of life.