A new government report came out with dietary advice. Hold on to your hats: Eat less, eat healthier, and move more. The Department of Health and Human Services offers the following guidelines:
- Enjoy your food, but eat less.
- Avoid oversized portions.
- Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
- Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
- Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals – and choose the foods with lower numbers.
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
I’ve always eaten out more often than I should. A few years ago though, I cut out pretty much all soda, fast food, and frozen microwave “meals”. It’s so easy to eat the bad stuff because it’s everywhere and it’s cheap. The companies that make the garbage have unlimited advertising budgets and their hooks in Congress. I’m all for personal responsibility, but when certain products are put in front of you every day while also being heavily subsidized to reduce prices, freedom of choice is a malleable concept.
This applies to driving, too. Cultural expectations, infrastructure, city/state/fed budgets, and huge advertising dollars are geared towards cars. All of these variables influence the individual choices made by millions of people. Car companies and the entities they’re in cahoots with won’t say something like, “Using alternative modes, even for short trips, will improve your health and save you money.” But I can say that.
Reading this report by the Australian Department of Transport and researchers from several Australian universities is eye opening and says what the Department of Health and Human Services has failed to make clear to the American public:
Physical activity must be maintained throughout life. Current, continuing, adequate exercise, rather than a history of youthful or hereditary vigour and athleticism is protective against coronary disease in all age ranges.
Only by promoting activities that can form an integral part of people’s lifestyles can we expect to:
- increase the amount of regular, moderate habitual activity in the community
- ensure that those sections of the community who are not interested or able to participate in sport-style recreation can enjoy the benefits.
Incidental exercise is a lot more accessible and realistic than telling people to go to the gym. Other studies show that even going to the gym when you’re completely inactive the rest of the day doesn’t do much good. Even standing up waiting for the bus is better for you than sitting in a car.
Having past the 6 month mark without a car and getting 100% more incidental exercise now than I did when I drove, I can attest that the body is made for moving. Reading back over my blog archives, I noticed a difference in just 2 weeks. That kinda sounds like an infomercial, but at least I’m trying to sell auto alternatives and not bacon products or glow in the dark frisbees.
So next time a DC Metro escalator is out, just be cool. Walk up the steps like a man (or a woman). It’s for your own good.
Update from The Onion: Department of Health and Human Services Recommends Standing At Least Once A Day