Are you fed up with fad diets? Confused about how to lose weight and gain fitness? The government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans provides sage nutritional advice and recognizes the absolutely essential and virtually unlimited benefits of physical activity.
Uncle Sam Wants You... To Exercise? Yes. That's the gist of the government's new nutritional guidelines. To underscore the importance of physical activity the government placed this topic at the top of their "Key Recommendations for the General Population." Uncle Sam recommends that you:
Engage in regular physical activity and reduce sedentary activities to promote health and psychological well-being, and achieve a healthy body weight.
To reduce the risk of chronic disease in adulthood: Engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, above usual activity, at work or home on most days of the week.
For most people, greater health benefits can be obtained by engaging in physical activity of more vigorous intensity or longer duration.
To help manage body weight and prevent gradual, unhealthy weight gain in adulthood: Engage in approximately 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity on most days of the week while not exceeding caloric-intake requirements.
To sustain weight loss in adulthood: Participate in at least 60 to 90 minutes of daily moderate-intensity physical activity while not exceeding caloric-intake requirements. Some people may need to consult with a healthcare provider before participating in this level of activity.
Achieve physical fitness by including cardiovascular conditioning, stretching exercises for flexibility, and resistance exercises or calisthenics for muscle strength and endurance.
Win The "Battle Of The Bulge" with Cycling Many of us are fighting our own "Battle of the Bulge." Over 65% of Americans are overweight or obese, in fact. The government realizes that there's no miracle weight-loss diet or pill. The best way to lose weight is to balance calories in and calories out. We realize that you have a wide variety of ways to burn those calories but we hope that bicycling is one of your steps to health.
We believe that cycling is the ultimate exercise. It's non load-bearing so injuries are less common than with other popular sports, such as running. Plus, it's easy to cover significant distances so you can enjoy the scenery and terrain. Perhaps best of all, cycling allows you to modify intensity with incredible precision unmatched in most other sports. You can breathlessly blaze through your workout, cruise at a moderate fat-burning pace, or enjoy unimpeded conversation with friends while still burning more calories and covering much more ground than many other forms of exercise. Whether you enjoy leisurely family outings or club rides on the weekend you'll still burn significant amounts of calories. And, thanks to the joy of gliding over trails or tarmac, you'll have so much fun you'll find it hard to call riding "exercise."
Dietary Recommendations The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture also have a host of other healthy tips. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines recommend that most Americans boost their consumption of fruits and vegetables while slashing the intake of trans fats found in processed foods.
The consumption of fruits and vegetables is especially important for cyclists who regularly ride at high intensity. Fruits and vegetables provide a superb source of muscle glycogen, dietary fiber, as well as important vitamins and minerals. Many top coaches even recommend that their athletes get a large percentage of their carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables.
Trans-fatty acids are hard to identify. They're found in numerous foods, such as packaged cookies and crackers, commercially fried food, margarine and microwave popcorn. Most foods that list hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated ingredients contain trans-fatty acids. Trans-fatty acids are known to increase LDL cholesterol ("bad cholesterol"), lower HDL cholesterol ("good cholesterol") and therefore increase the risk of heart disease and possibly Type 2 Diabetes.
Small Steps Weight loss is a gradual process. It's usually much more effective in the long-term to practice small, healthful habits than to try to lose large amounts of weight at one. The Department of Health and Human Services has a list of 118 small steps that will help you beat weight gain. Here are a few of our favorites:
Bicycle to the store instead of driving
Make time daily for physical activity.
Bike to the barber or salon instead of driving.
Pick a fun exercise, such as cycling because you're more likely to stick with it.
When cycling and walking, go up hills (rather than avoiding them) to burn more calories.
It seems to us that the government recognizes the importance of bicycling in a healthy lifestyle. We hope you do, too. Whether we can help you fix up an old bike, or find a new one, we're here to help you in your path to fun and fitness.