Youth is the time of life when one is young, but often means the time between childhood and adulthood ( maturity). Our lifestyles define us, they are the way we live.
To start with, 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 is however inadequate to ensure a healthy body as physical activities help to keep one in shape and free of sickness and disease. According to the World Health Organization, only 1 in 10 people exercises 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, fried rice, 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. Physical activities have gone from running and jumping as an infant to spending free time hanging out as teenagers, watching television, talking on cell phones, sitting at the computer and playing video games. Schools no longer have mandatory physical education or health programs that provide students with activity and exercise along with information about healthy eating thanks to adults who do not understand the consequences many of our young children and teenagers face.
However, the emphasis on a healthy lifestyle should start at a young age. Parents must urge their children to eat more vegetables, fruits, juices, wholemeal and wholegrain foods. But the fact is that agricultural products contain a lot of pesticides and fertilizers, which is why youngsters are vulnerable to diseases such as Parkinson and Alzheimer. Therefore more healthy practices must be used by reducing agro-chemicals and replacing them with natural fertilizers such as compost.
Many parents, due to time constraint, usually find the easy way out by cooking two-minutes noodles or heading towards the nearest fast food for quick meals. They do not realize however that these junk foods set the stage for an unhealthy lifestyle for their children who quickly become addicted to such foods.
Consequently, parents can counter this problem by cooking or preparing meals that do not take up time such as cheese sandwiches, soups, stir fried 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 order deep fried food and oily dishes as opposed to steamed or baked foods.
Though, eating out is unavoidable, for both parents and children, adults as a whole should order fresh foods 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. School canteens must be urged to sell only highly nutritious food and drinks. Vending machines that sell soft drinks that are spiked with sugar should be banned. Hence, school going children would be exposed to healthy eating from a young age.
Daily exercises are vital. In fact, schools should implement Physical Education on a daily basis rather than twice weekly. Only a minority of students are actively involved in sports. Most students are sedentary and prefer to concentrate on their studies rather than indulge in physical activities as they think it is a waste of time. By enforcing regular exercises daily, these students would be exposed to the importance and benefits of exercises. 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 exercising. 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 adhering to clubs for exercises and having a healthy meal after that. In short, leading a healthy lifestyle is a conscious decision. It is important to recognize that a healthy living ensures a longer life span as well as a life free of disease and complications. Healthy lifestyles are critical to the future of our nation.
Health is not just your priority, rather an asset and you got to ensure that you are putting efforts in preserving it for rest of your life. A health life, can definitely take you on a longer way. So, start changing your habits now, and get accustomed to healthy lifestyle.
By Linus Paul
Nursingworld Nigeria Contributor
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