Be Physically Active Each Day

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Being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight are both needed for good health, but they benefit health different ways. Children, teens, adults and the elderly can all improve their health and well-being and have fun by including moderate amounts of physical activity in their daily lives. Physical activity involves moving the body. A moderate physical activity is any activity that requires about as much energy as walking 2 miles in 30 minutes.

Aim to accumulate at least 30 minutes (adults) or 60 minutes (children) of moderate physical activity most days of the week, preferably daily. If you already get 30 minutes of physical activity daily, you can gain even more health benefits by inceasing the amount of time that you are physically active or by taking part in more vigorous activities. No matter what activity you choose, you can do it all at once, or spread it out over two or three times during the day.

Other strategies for good digestive health

  • Eat plenty of fiber-rich foods. Plant foods are excellent sources of fiber as well as other vitamins and minerals such as selenium, calcium, and folate that may protect against digestive-tract cancers. Dietary guidelines recommend 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day. Fiber promotes softening and bulking of stool to prevent constipation and reduce symptoms of disorder such as irritable bowel syndrome and hemorrhoids. Increase fiber in you diet gradually over a period of weeks to avoid excess intestinal gas and abdominal bloating.
  • Reduce fat. Excess fat slows digestion and can lead to heartburn, bloating and constipation. A diet high in saturated fats also increases your risk of colon cancer.
  • Avoid cold drinks while eating. Food is digested more efficiently at room temperature. Cold fluids slow down the digestive process.
  • Drink plenty of fluids between meals. Fluids promote healthy digestion by lubricating food waste so that it passes more easily through your digestive tract.
  • Don't rush eating. Digestion begins in the mouth. Chew food until it is near liquid consistency. Chewing food generates saliva with enzymes that begin the breakdown of food. Chewing also signals the organs such as the stomach and pancreas to secrete their digestive juices. These digestive enzymes flow more freely in calm environment. Also, air swallowed during hurried eating can produce belching or bloating.
  • Eat meals at regular intervals and avoid overeating. The body produces a certain volume of digestive juices. Thus, large meals are poorly digested and stress the system. With a regular schedule, your digestive organs have time to rest between meals.
  • Try a Short walk after a meal. It is great stimulus for digestion.
  • Limit alcohol. Alcohol can irritate the stomach lining and relax your lower esophageal sphincter, the valve that prevents stomach acid from backing up into your esophagus.
  • Avoid tobacco. Tobacco has harmful effects on all parts of the digestive system. The nicotine in tobacco may increase stomach acid production.