A healthy lifestyle means maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet as well as engaging in sports or other fitness related activities. A healthy diet alone however is inadequate to ensure a healthy body as physical activity helps to keep one in shape and free of sickness and disease.
According to the World Health Organisation, only one in ten people exercise regularly and a majority does not follow a healthy diet. The main culprit is our penchant for junk food as can be seen from the popularity of fast food chains and other western eateries. Even local foods such as fried noodles, friend rice and snacks and savories are laden with fat and calories. Thus, consuming this type of food on a daily basis can contribute to weight gain. Overweight and obese people suffer from many health complications such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and even cancer.
Hence, the emphasis on healthy lifestyle should start at a very young age. Parents must urge their children to eat more vegetables, fruits, juices, whole meal and whole grain foods. Many parents, due to time constraint, usually find the easy way out by cooking two-minute noodles or heading towards the nearest fast food joint for a quick meal. They do not realise however that sets the stage for an unhealthy lifestyle for their children who quickly become addicted to such foods. Thus, parents can counter this problem by cooking or preparing meals that do not take up time such as cheese sandwiches, soup, stir friend vegetables or buy pre-packed meals from supermarkets which can be warmed up in the microwave oven.
Dining out usually involves eating heavily and unhealthily. Most of us are prone to ordering deep fried food and oily dishes as opposed to steamed or baked food. Thus, though eating out are unavoidable, parents of children and adults as a whole should order fresh food and foods that are nutritious and not laden with oil, fat or sugar. Once a pattern of healthy eating is established, it would be easier to carry through such a lifestyle and for the children to follow suit.
School canteens must be urged to sell only highly nutritious food and drinks. Vending machines that sell soft drinks and drinks that are spiked with sugar should be banned.Daily exercise is vital. In fact, schools should implement physical education on a daily basis rather than twice weekly. Only the minority are actively involved in sports. Most students are sedentary and prefer to concentrate on their studies as they consider indulging in physical activities a waste of time. By enforcing regular exercise daily, these students would be exposed to the importance and benefits of exercise.
Many parents and adults do not allocate time for physical activity. A large number of them work long hours and return home late thereby depriving themselves of the benefits of exercise. Parents must lead an exemplary life which can benefit their children by increasing awareness on the health benefits of exercising regularly. Bringing their children for walks in the morning or evening is a good start to achieve this goal. They should become members of clubs which have swimming pools and gym facilities. During the weekend, the family can strengthen their bond by adjourning to clubs for exercise and a healthy meal after that.
In short, leading a healthy lifestyle is a conscious decision. One can ignore that and lead a life that exposes one to many health hazards. It is important to recognise that a healthy living ensures a longer life span as well as a life free of disease and complications.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)