The Walk Kansas program started last week. 300 individuals in Bourbon County are using the eight-week program to help them start or continue making some healthy lifestyle changes by getting more physical activity and eating more fruits and vegetables. The individuals are not expected to make big changes to their lifestyle, but to take some small steps that can help them live a healthier life.
Taking just one "small step" to improve your lifestyle choices can drastically improve your health. Here's an example. To prevent weight gain of one pound a year, eat 10 calories less per day on average. Another example. Walk one-half mile five days a week for three months to burn the calories found in one pound of body weight.
A couple of food changes that might easily be made are to eat breakfast more regularly and to replace white bread with a whole grain kind. Next, you might snack more often on fruits and vegetables instead of selecting foods high in added salt or sugar.
You might choose to read the Nutrition Facts labels on foods; replace most soft drinks with fat free milk; add cooked legumes to salads; or replace 80-percent lean ground beef with 95-percent lean.
Small changes not only add up in calorie savings, but in dollar savings as well. If you drink 22 ounces of regular soda each day, and you replace it with tap water, this is the impact that one small change would have: You would reduce sugar in your diet by almost 11 pounds per year, and you could save up to $365.
Another small change that really doesn't seem like a sacrifice is applying the "half and half" rule. If you love whole milk and can't give it up, keep the whole milk jug and when it is half empty fill it up with skim milk. Try this for awhile until you get used to the taste. Then start buying two percent milk, then one percent, and finally skim milk. Going from whole to skim milk will reduce each serving by 55 calories.
Similar to making gradual improvements in food selections, being more physically active improves well -- being. You might begin to walk during part of your lunch hour, or park a little farther away from your office and stores. Over time, you could increase the minutes per week spent in planned physical activity sessions, such as stretching, using light hand-held weights or bicycling.
Recent research confirms that losing ten pounds of excess body weight and getting 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise, such as walking, greatly reduce the risk of getting type two diabetes, or at least postpone the risk.
The first step in making a lifestyle change is to understand that you don't have to make lots of changes in food selections and physical activity all at once. That can lead to feeling overwhelmed. Instead, start by improving just one or two of your lifestyle choices. Nudge your food and physical activity habits toward better health. You can expect measurable benefits to your health and quality of life.