Health, Nutrition, and Physical Activity
Our overall health is affected by the food we eat and our physical activity. With proper diet and exercise, we reduce our risks for chronic diseases such as heart disease, many cancers, type 2 diabetes, anemia, and bone loss. A nutritious diet can also help reduce high blood pressure, lower cholesterol, manage arthritis, and manage diabetes. Physical activity strengthens bones and muscles, improves cardiovascular health, protects against many health conditions, increases energy, controls weight, and improves mental health and mood. The trick to staying healthy is all about finding a balance of food and physical activity that works for you.
Kansas citizens want reliable research-based information about their food supply. Busy families want to prepare quick, easy, nutritious meals. Helping Kansans eat more healthfully and increase physical activity can improve their quality of life now and in the future, and reduce health care costs. Learning to eat healthfully can also stretch family food budgets.
February is American Heart Month
As American Heart Month, February is the perfect time to learn about your risk for heart disease and the steps you need to take now to help your heart. Heart disease, and the conditions that lead to it, can happen at ANY age, not just older adults. Half of all Americans have at least one of the top three risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking.
Are you at risk?
- High blood pressure - Millions of Americans of all ages have high blood pressure, including millions of people in their 40s and 50s. About half of people with high blood pressure don't have it under control. Having uncontrolled high blood pressure is one of the biggest risks for heart disease and other harmful conditions, such as stroke.
- High blood cholesterol - High cholesterol can increase the risk for heart disease. Having diabetes and obesity, smoking, eating unhealthy foods, and not getting enough physical activity can all contribute to unhealthy cholesterol levels.
- Smoking - More than 37 million U.S. adults are current smokers, and thousands of young people start smoking each day. Smoking damages the blood vessels and can cause heart disease.
Other conditions and behaviors that affect your risk for heart disease include:
- Obesity - Carrying extra weight puts stress on the heart. More than 1 in 3 Americans - and nearly 1 in 6 children ages 2 to 19 - has obesity. You can calculate your body mass index here: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/adult_bmi/english_bmi_calculator/bmi_calculator.html
- Diabetes - Diabetes causes sugar to build up in the blood. This can damage blood vessels and nerves that help control the heart muscle. Nearly 1 in 10 people in the United States has diabetes.
- Physical inactivity - Staying physically active helps keep the heart and blood vessels healthy. Only 1 in 5 adults meets the physical activity guidelines of getting 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity.
- Unhealthy eating patterns - Most Americans, including children, eat too much salt, which increases blood pressure. Replacing foods high in sodium with fresh fruits and vegetables can help lower blood pressure. But only 1 in 10 adults is getting enough fruits and vegetables each day. Diet high in trans-fat, saturated fat, and added sugar increases the risk factor for heart disease.
We can help!
Our FCS agents can direct you to K-State Research and Extension publications with more information about heart health, a healthy diet, and exercise. Here are a few to get you started: Adopt Habits for Heart Health, Eat for a Healthy Heart, Health Benefits of Exercise: The Facts.
For a heart-healthy shopping list, click here.
Classes and seminars are also offered throughout the year that promote good health. Call your FCS agent to find out more.