Exercise, diet and healthy weight are the three key ingredients for a longer and healthier life.
Plan for Success
Making big changes in your life is hard, especially if you are faced with more than one change. You can make it easier by taking these steps:
- Make a plan to change behavior.
- Think about what might prevent you from reaching your goals.
- Find family and friends who will support and encourage you.
- Your doctor, a dietitian, or a counselor can help you make a plan. You can also use the Gameplan below to get started.
Being overweight can keep your body from using sugar properly. It can also cause high blood pressure.
In one study, people who lost between 5 and 7 percent of their body weight significantly reduced their risk of type 2 diabetes. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, losing only 10 pounds could make a difference!
Choose sensible ways to get in shape:
- Avoid crash diets. Instead, eat less of the foods you usually have. Limit the amount of fat you eat.
- Increase your physical activity. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. (See page 9 for easy suggestions.)
- Set a reasonable weight-loss goal, such as losing 1 pound a week. Aim for a long-term goal of losing 5 to 7 percent of your total body weight.
Make Wise Food Choices
What you eat has a big impact on your health. By making wise food choices, you can help control your body weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
- Take a hard look at the serving sizes of the foods you eat. Reduce serving sizes of main courses (such as meat), desserts, and foods high in fat. Increase the amount of fruits and vegetables.
- Limit your fat intake to about 25 percent of your total calories. For example, if your food choices add up to about 2,000 calories a day, try to get no more than 500 calories from fat (about 56 fat grams). Your doctor or a dietitian can help you figure out how much fat to have. You can check food labels for fat content, too.
- You may also wish to reduce the number of calories you have each day. Your doctor or dietitian can help you with a meal plan that emphasizes weight loss.
- Keep a food and exercise log. Write down what you eat, how much you exercise — anything that helps keep you on track.
- When you meet your goal, reward yourself with a nonfood item or activity, like watching a movie.
Be Physically Active Every Day
Regular exercise tackles several risk factors at once. It helps you lose weight, keeps your cholesterol and blood pressure under control, and helps your body use insulin. Being physically active for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes.
If you are not very active, you should start slowly, talking with your doctor first about what kinds of exercise would be safe for you. Make a plan to increase your activity level toward the goal of being active at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week.
Choose activities you enjoy. Walking is one of the best ways to work extra activity into your daily routine:
- Take the stairs rather than an elevator or escalator.
- Park at the far end of the lot and walk.
- Get off the bus a few stops early and walk the rest of the way.
- Walk or bicycle instead of drive whenever you can.
Find out more
Where to go from here
Visit our Preventive Health web site Take Charge of Your Health for health toolkits and information: