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The World Around You

Use What You Have to Stay Healthy and Fit


No matter who you are or where you live, eating well and getting regular exercise are important ways to be healthy. These activities may help you maintain a healthy weight and prevent or delay certain health problems, such as diabetes.

Cities and suburbs usually offer large grocery stores and gyms. These facilities may make it easier to live healthfully. But if you live in a small community, you may not have easy access to a large grocery store or health club. Do not let this stop you from following healthy behaviors! You can still find ways to eat better and be more active.

This page will give you tips on how to use the world around you to stay healthy and fit.

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How Weight Affects Your Health

A healthy weight may reduce your risk for diabetes, heart disease, strokes, and some cancers. When a person gains weight over time, risk for these health problems increases. Healthy eating and regular physical activity are good ways to help you reach a healthy weight and lower your risk for these health problems.

What is a healthy weight?

You can find out if you are at a healthy weight for you by learning your body mass index (BMI). Your BMI is a number that results from measuring the relationship between your weight and height.

To use the table, find the appropriate height in the left-hand column labeled Height. Move across to a given weight (in pounds).
The number at the top of the column is the BMI at that height and weight. Pounds have been rounded off.

  Normal Overweight Obese Extreme Obesity
         
BMI 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54
Height
(inches)
    Body Weight
(pounds)
 
58 91 96 100 105 110 115 119 124 129 134 138 143 148 153 158 162 167 172 177 181 186 191 196 201 205 210 215 220 224 229 234 239 244 248 253 258
59 94 99 104 109 114 119 124 128 133 138 143 148 153 158 163 168 173 178 183 188 193 198 203 208 212 217 222 227 232 237 242 247 252 257 262 267
60 97 102 107 112 118 123 128 133 138 143 148 153 158 163 168 174 179 184 189 194 199 204 209 215 220 225 230 235 240 245 250 255 261 266 271 276
61 100 106 111 116 122 127 132 137 143 148 153 158 164 169 174 180 185 190 195 201 206 211 217 222 227 232 238 243 248 254 259 264 269 275 280 285
62 104 109 115 120 126 131 136 142 147 153 158 164 169 175 180 186 191 196 202 207 213 218 224 229 235 240 246 251 256 262 267 273 278 284 289 295
63 107 113 118 124 130 135 141 146 152 158 163 169 175 180 186 191 197 203 208 214 220 225 231 237 242 248 254 259 265 270 278 282 287 293 299 304
64 110 116 122 128 134 140 145 151 157 163 169 174 180 186 192 197 204 209 215 221 227 232 238 244 250 256 262 267 273 279 285 291 296 302 308 314
65 114 120 126 132 138 144 150 156 162 168 174 180 186 192 198 204 210 216 222 228 234 240 246 252 258 264 270 276 282 288 294 300 306 312 318 324
66 118 124 130 136 142 148 155 161 167 173 179 186 192 198 204 210 216 223 229 235 241 247 253 260 266 272 278 284 291 297 303 309 315 322 328 334
67 121 127 134 140 146 153 159 166 172 178 185 191 198 204 211 217 223 230 236 242 249 255 261 268 274 280 287 293 299 306 312 319 325 331 338 344
68 125 131 138 144 151 158 164 171 177 184 190 197 203 210 216 223 230 236 243 249 256 262 269 276 282 289 295 302 308 315 322 328 335 341 348 354
69 128 135 142 149 155 162 169 176 182 189 196 203 209 216 223 230 236 243 250 257 263 270 277 284 291 297 304 311 318 324 331 338 345 351 358 365
70 132 139 146 153 160 167 174 181 188 195 202 209 216 222 229 236 243 250 257 264 271 278 285 292 299 306 313 320 327 334 341 348 355 362 369 376
71 136 143 150 157 165 172 179 186 193 200 208 215 222 229 236 243 250 257 265 272 279 286 293 301 308 315 322 329 338 343 351 358 365 372 379 386
72 140 147 154 162 169 177 184 191 199 206 213 221 228 235 242 250 258 265 272 279 287 294 302 309 316 324 331 338 346 353 361 368 375 383 390 397
73 144 151 159 166 174 182 189 197 204 212 219 227 235 242 250 257 265 272 280 288 295 302 310 318 325 333 340 348 355 363 371 378 386 393 401 408
74 148 155 163 171 179 186 194 202 210 218 225 233 241 249 256 264 272 280 287 295 303 311 319 326 334 342 350 358 365 373 381 389 396 404 412 420
75 152 160 168 176 184 192 200 208 216 224 232 240 248 256 264 272 279 287 295 303 311 319 327 335 343 351 359 367 375 383 391 399 407 415 423 431
76 156 164 172 180 189 197 205 213 221 230 238 246 254 263 271 279 287 295 304 312 320 328 336 344 353 361 369 377 385 394 402 410 418 426 435 443

Source: Adapted from Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults. The Evidence Report. NIH Publication No. 98–4083: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; 1998.

In addition to learning your BMI, you should also measure your waist. A waist measurement does not tell if you are overweight, but it does show if you have extra fat in your stomach. Extra fat around your waist may harm your health even more than fat around your thighs or hips.

A waist measurement at or above 40 inches for men or 35 inches for women may mean that you have a higher chance of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and other problems.

If you are overweight or obese, talk with your doctor or other health care provider about losing weight. If you need to lose weight, you will need to take in fewer calories than you use. You take in calories by eating and drinking, and you use calories by being physically active. You may lose weight by following a plan for healthy eating and a plan for regular physical activity.

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Ways to Use the World Around You to Move More

Regular physical activity may help you

  • stay at a healthy weight
  • gain more energy
  • lower your stress level
  • reduce your risk of serious health problems

You do not need costly weights or treadmills or organized fitness classes to be physically active. Consider using everyday items or local resources to be active. In addition to getting exercise, you may have fun in ways that do not cost a lot of money.

The chart below lists several types of physical activity and provides examples of each type.

Physical Activities to Help You Move More
Activity Examples Using What You Have
Aerobic activities Walking, hiking, jogging, biking Go for a hike around your home. Form a walking group with friends and use the track at the local high school.
Strength training activities Exercises to build muscle You can build muscles by doing exercises such as arm curls or squats. In place of weights, use gallon-size water bottles, soup cans, or large books.
Everyday activities Household chores, taking the stairs, mowing the lawn Make chores fun by putting some energy into them! Washing the car, sweeping floors, raking leaves, and other chores all count as ways to be active.

Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans

For more information about the benefits of physical activity, see the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, available online at http://www.health.gov/paguidelines Exit Disclaimer.

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Making Physical Activity Work for You

  • Try different activities to find out what you like the most. For exercise to become a part of your life, it helps if you enjoy it.
  • Be active with your family. At least once a week, plan an active outing, such as a family bike ride, or a walk through a local park. Also, ask friends and coworkers to be active with you. Having exercise “buddies” may help you stay interested in being active.
  • Try to make activity a priority. You can fit in physical activity in the morning, on your lunch break, before dinner, or after the kids go to bed. If you are too flexible with your time, you may never get the exercise you need.
  • Pick times when other activities will not get in the way. Start with a small goal of being active for 10 minutes a day, and then slowly build up to longer periods of time. As you build more physical activity into your life, set limits on the amount of time you and your family spend watching TV, playing video games, and using the computer.

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Ways to Use the Foods Around You to Eat Better

In addition to physical activity, eating healthier foods is important for your health. Healthy eating may help you

  • lose weight
  • feel better
  • prevent weight gain

Making changes to your eating habits may seem hard or even impossible. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products are important parts of a healthy eating plan. Just remember that you do not have to change everything at once. Start small because small changes can make a big difference.

Eating Better Can Save Time and Money

  • Save time by buying foods that are easy to prepare. Consider fixing whole-wheat pasta and tomato sauce or rice and beans. Be sure to freeze or refrigerate leftovers right away to keep them safe to eat.
  • Check out a farmers market or roadside stand if one is near you. You may find fresh fruits, vegetables, and other foods that are in season.
  • Buy frozen or canned foods, like mixed vegetables (no salt added) and canned fruits packed in their own juices. You can add them to any pasta sauce or rice dish. They are good for you, like fresh produce, and will save you time when cooking. Although they may not “spoil,” frozen and canned foods do not last forever. Check the “use-by” dates on canned and frozen foods. “Use-by” dates refer to the quality of a food.
  • Try canned beans, like kidney and black beans, and rinse them to remove excess salt. These foods cost less than meat and are loaded with protein.

Portion Size and Serving Size

An important part of healthy eating is being able to recognize the difference between a "portion" size and a "serving" size. A portion is how much food you choose to eat at one time. A serving is the amount of food listed on a product's Nutrition Facts label. For more information about eating just enough for you and nutrition labels, see http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/LabelingNutrition/ucm274593.htm Exit Disclaimer.

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Achieving Your Goals

As you try to be more active and eat better, it is important to set goals you will be able to reach. For example, set a goal to eat one fruit or vegetable at every meal. Keep track of your new goals in a notebook. This way you will see what is working and what is not, and you can adjust your goals as needed.

There will be times when you have setbacks. If you expect them and think of ways to overcome them, you may be able to avoid being thrown off track for too long. Common setbacks are lack of time and loss of interest.

To stay on track

  • ask your friends, family, or coworkers to join you for a walk, bike ride, or other activity
  • break your activity into chunks when trying to find the time to be active
  • exercise for 10 minutes, three times a day, which might be easier than setting aside one 30-minute block of time

You can do it!

Being more active and eating better may seem tough without access to large grocery stores, expensive weights or treadmills, or paved walking trails. Remember, you can use what you have around you to be healthy.

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Additional Reading From the Weight-control Information Network

The following WIN publications offer more information on healthy eating and physical activity:

Changing Your Habits: Steps to Better Health guides readers through steps that can help them learn what "stage" they are in—how ready they are—to make healthy changes. Once that stage is known, tips on how to make healthy eating and physical activity changes are given.
http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/changing-habits.htm

Just Enough for You describes the difference between a portion—the amount of food a person chooses to eat—and a serving. It offers tips for judging portion sizes and controlling portions at home and when eating out.
http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/just_enough.htm

Tips to Help You Get Active offers ideas and suggestions for beating your roadblocks to make physical activity a part of your daily life.
http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/tips.htm

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For More Information

American Heart Association
This website features a free online walking guide, physical activity and nutrition tracker, healthy recipes, and sample stretches.
Internet: http://www.startwalkingnow.org/home.jsp Exit Disclaimer

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Aim for a Healthy Weight

The first website below includes a “Portion Distortion” quiz, BMI assessment tool, and menu planner; the second website has sample reduced-calorie menus based on different cuisines.
Internet: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/ Exit Disclaimer
Internet: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/lose_wt/sampmenu.htm Exit Disclaimer
Phone: 301–592–8573

Rural Assistance Center
This website offers health information for those working with or living in rural communities.
Internet: http://www.raconline.org Exit Disclaimer
Phone: 1–800–270–1898

U.S. Department of Agriculture
ChooseMyPlate
More information and interactive tools on healthy eating and physical activity are available on this website.
Internet: http://www.choosemyplate.gov Exit Disclaimer
Phone:1–888–779–7264

Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food: Strengthen Rural Communities
This website lists resources available to rural communities.
Internet: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/knowyourfarmer?navid=KNOWYOURFARMER Exit Disclaimer

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010
This website provides information about healthy eating to decrease your chances of developing health conditions and improve your overall health.
Internet: http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines Exit Disclaimer

2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
This website provides helpful information and recommendations for fitting physical activity into your life.
Internet: http://www.health.gov/paguidelines Exit Disclaimer

Inclusion of resources is for information only and does not imply endorsement by NIDDK or WIN.

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Weight-control Information Network

1 WIN Way
Bethesda, MD 20892–3665
Phone: 202–828–1025
Toll-free number: 1–877–946–4627
Fax: 202–828–1028
Email: win@info.niddk.nih.gov
Internet: http://www.win.niddk.nih.gov

The Weight-control Information Network (WIN) is a national information service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) of the National Institutes of Health, which is the Federal Government’s lead agency responsible for biomedical research on nutrition and obesity. Authorized by Congress (Public Law 103–43), WIN provides the general public, health professionals, the media, and Congress with up-to-date, science-based health information on weight control, obesity, physical activity, and related nutritional issues.

Publications produced by WIN are reviewed by both NIDDK scientists and outside experts. This publication was also reviewed by:

  • Sylvia Moore, Ph.D., R.D., Deputy Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education, Montana University System.
  • William Neal, M.D., James H. Walker Chair of Pediatric Cardiology and Director, CARDIAC Project, West Virginia University School of Medicine, Morgantown, WV.

This publication is not copyrighted. WIN encourages users of this brochure to duplicate and distribute as many copies as desired.


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
National Institutes of Health

NIH Publication No. 09–7461
November 2010

Participants in clinical trials play a more active role in their own health care, gain access to new research treatments before they are widely available, and help others by contributing to medical research.



To contact WIN, call toll free 1–877–946–4627; fax: 202–828–1028; email: win@info.niddk.nih.gov;
or write Weight-control Information Network, 1 WIN Way, Bethesda, MD 20892–3665.

Last Modified: September 4, 2014

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