For part of last week I was out of town and staying in Chicago, which of course meant no time for any real exercise, a whirlwind of restaurants and the occasional drink or two. Not exactly a recipe for healthy living. And now, I'm paying the price with a cold that seems to be gaining ground by the day -- and making my regular exercise routine seem like a distant memory.
While I wouldn't exactly describe myself as a health nut (let's just say sugar, carbs and I are on close terms), I do work to live a healthy lifestyle. I eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, and I opt for whole foods over processed meals-on-the-go. I take as many long walks as the weather allows, I do yoga and I also try to hit the gym a few times a week. But like most people, I go through stages where I feel too busy, stressed or overwhelmed to be as active as I should, or to cook a healthy dinner rather than ripping open some processed, packaged meal.
Clearly, I'm not alone. An American Heart Association (AHA) survey reveals that only 12 percent of American adults regularly practice all of the following healthy habits: good nutrition, exercise and oral care. Most survey respondents pointed to lack of time as the reason they haven't adopted these habits in their daily lives.
According to the survey, 80 percent of American adults reported that trying to eat at least 9 servings of fruit and vegetables every day is a struggle. And 60 percent find it difficult to get AHA's recommended levels of exercise -- at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity.
"Whether it is simply adding a 30-minute brisk walk to your day, eating a few more fruits and vegetables with your meals, balancing your calories and physical activity to achieve a healthy body weight or creating routine oral care habits – it all contributes to an overall healthier lifestyle,” said Tracy Stevens, M.D., AHA spokesperson and professor of medicine – cardiologist with Saint Luke’s Cardiovascular Consultants.
AHA's My Heart. My Life. healthy living initiative offers solutions that focus on improving nutrition, physical activity and children’s health. Through this initiative, AHA strives to help individuals and families understand how to make incremental changes for a substantial long-term health impact. Resources include a nutrition center, diet tips, options to personalize a diet plan, a walking guide, information on stress management and more. Visit http://www.myheartmylife.org to learn more.
Of course, if you happen to be sick, you need to take a break from exercise to get well. For some reason it's the times I'm feeling under the weather that I most wish I had it in me to go out and take a jog. Instead, I'm stuck on the couch.
So go out and get active. Do it for those of us who are currently indisposed. I'll be right over here with my orange juice, box of tissues, cold medicine and a vow to head over to the gym once I'm well. Good luck.