Published on August 22, 2016

Healthy Eating, Regular Exercise Go Hand-In-Hand

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. What better time of the year and what better reason to get outdoors and make exercise a habit?

Because I’m a dietitian, I am hard-wired to believe healthy eating habits go hand-in-hand with regular physical activity. I don’t always eat like a dietitian should, but I feel that my overall eating habits have changed because I routinely exercise. Exercise can work alongside healthy eating to improve overall health.

Benefits of exercise include: Raising HDL (good) cholesterol levels, improving blood pressure and maintaining normal blood sugar levels. Exercise can in turn help prevent heart disease, certain cancers and diabetes. The visible effects of exercise can be seen in better sleep and more easily falling asleep at night, prevention of or decrease in respiratory infections, improvements to thinking and memory, improved mood and of course, weight loss.

Hard To Get Started?

Start first thing in the morning. Not a morning person? I don’t know that I am necessarily a “morning person,” or that I just love to get up and go. However, I remind myself of the positive effects, of how it makes me feel afterward. I like to sleep in, but there is something about getting outside early to watch the sunrise that I miss when I don’t do it or during the winter months.

Exercising early in the morning can help to start each day with a healthy resolve to eat right. It can also prevent excuses to skip if you wait until later in the day to exercise. However, it is important to find a time that works best for your schedule. Aim to go outside for at least 10 minutes. Once you get out, you may just forget about your watch and keeping track of the time.

Tired Of The Same Scenery?

Scope out new places to venture. Enlist a walking partner to keep you accountable, or just to have company. You can also volunteer to walk dogs at a local shelter. These are 100 percent guaranteed walking partners that will never be in short supply of enthusiasm! Participate in a walk for a good cause, or become a race volunteer. Keeping company with health-conscious people will help you in your healthy endeavors. The focus should be on finding what you enjoy.

Other Ways To Get Activity In!

Use the steps, park further away from your destination in the parking lot and try to find ways to include short bursts of exercise during your day. I am thankful that Owensboro Health provides different ways to exercise indoors and outdoors. Take advantage of the “free” ways to exercise: Enjoy the Adkisson Greenbelt Park around Owensboro or bike ride at Ben Hawes Park. As little as 30 minutes, three times a week, has been shown to improve overall health. The main point is to get out and do something for yourself!

Need examples of healthy snacks to try during exercise, high in fiber and nutrients for a nourishing energizer? Here are some ideas:

  • Mix raisins and unsalted peanuts, keep in snack-size bags for a high protein, satisfying snack
  • Keep 100-calorie packs of almonds
  • Pack a small cooler with yogurt or mozzarella string cheese and low-fat chocolate milk
  • Fruit is highly portable and peanut butter goes well with bananas or apples
  • Low-sodium, baked whole-wheat crackers are great with soy nut butter (or other peanut butter substitutes)

Angela Dixon, RD, is an avid runner and enjoys reading biographies and being outdoors. She has worked in her current position as a dietitian at Owensboro Health for 13 years.

This article was originally published in the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer.

About Owensboro Health

Owensboro Health is a nonprofit health system with a mission to heal the sick and to improve the health of the communities it serves in Kentucky and Indiana. The system includes Owensboro Health Regional Hospital, nationally recognized for design, architecture and engineering; Owensboro Health Muhlenberg Community Hospital; Owensboro Health Twin Lakes Medical Center; the Owensboro Health Medical Group comprised of over 350 providers at more than 30 locations; three outpatient Healthplex facilities, a certified medical fitness facility, the Healthpark; a weight management program, and the Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center.

On average each year, we have more than 19,000 inpatient admissions, deliver 2,000 babies and provide the region’s only Level III NICU. Owensboro Health physicians perform nearly 33,000 surgical procedures, including nearly 150 open-heart surgeries. Our physicians and staff have 90,000 Emergency Department visits and more than 1.25 million outpatient visits annually. Visit our home page for more information.