As the World Health Organization (WHO) tells us, health is not just the absence of disease or infirmity but a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being”. Two great health allies are proper nutrition and sport. In fact, good health is closely linked to good nutritional status. The latter, in turn, is determined by the food we eat in relation to capacity to digest, absorb and utilize nutrients and is directly influenced by foods and their nutrient content. As the Ministry of Health explains to us, a varied and balanced diet is the foundation of a healthy life, while an incorrect diet affects psycho-physical well-being and represents one of the main risk factors for the onset of disease.
To disseminate the rules of correct nutrition, the Ministry of Health has promoted the “Nutrition while playing” campaign, aimed at teachers and children of primary and lower secondary schools. In the e-books for teachers and pupils, which can be downloaded from the Ministry website, the model of the Mediterranean diet is proposed, which provides for a consistent daily intake of cereals or their derivatives, a daily consumption of fruit and vegetables (3 fruits and at least 2 of vegetables), a frequent use of legumes (at least 3 times a week) and a moderate weekly intake of proteins of animal origin. A crucial role for health is played by physical activity, which should be practiced constantly. At every age and stage of life, regular physical activity means making a choice in favor of one’s health, the Istituto Superiore di Sanità also tells us: practiced regularly, physical activity helps to maintain and improve psychophysical well-being, reduce the symptoms of anxiety, stress, depression and even loneliness, because it can be done in company, improves sleep, helps reduce blood pressure and control blood sugar and cholesterol levels, helps prevent metabolic and cardiovascular diseases and neoplastic and arthrosis and helps to reduce excess adipose tissue because it facilitates the achievement of energy balance. It also has clear benefits for the musculoskeletal system and reduces the risk of falls in the elderly population. It also contributes to managing the main non-communicable chronic diseases and therefore to improving the quality of life.
As explained by the SID – Italian Society of Diabetology, it is advisable to divide the time of our day into dynamic and static activities following as much as possible the “pyramid” shown in the photo: walk as often as possible, and take the stairs instead of taking the ‘elevator. Carry out aerobic exercises lasting at least 20 minutes such as swimming, cycling, brisk walking three to five times a week. At the same frequency, and lasting at least 30 minutes, it is advisable to practice sporting recreational activities such as football, tennis, excursions, etc. Recreational activities such as golf, gardening, etc. should be done two to three times a week. or muscle exercises such as yoga, stretching, weight lifting, etc. Finally, it is recommended to save a lot of the time dedicated to sedentary activities such as watching television, avoiding sitting continuously for more than 30 minutes. The following table gives us a rough idea of the physical activity needed to “consume” what is taken in with food, with the minutes of walking, cycling or running needed to consume the energy equivalent to a few portions of food in common use. Happy movement everyone!