February 10, 2005
Prairie Fare: Resist Being a Couch Potato
With cold weather outside and hot sports on TV, it’s hard to resist being a couch potato. Unfortunately, lounging on the couch with a bowl of chips and a beverage of choice can pack on a few pounds over the winter months. It only takes 3,500 extra calories to add a pound of body fat, which is hard to subtract.
Many Americans fall in the “sedentary” category. In fact, one in four American adults did not participate in any leisure-time physical activity, according to published 2002 reports.
Long-term health news for the sedentary is not good. Being sedentary is linked with greater chances of becoming obese and/or getting heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and certain types of cancer. Inactivity also is linked to higher levels of depression.
If you want to prevent the gradual weight gain that often goes with age or if you have pounds you’d like to lose, the latest health guidelines recommend 60 to 90 minutes of moderate physical activity. If you’d like to lower your chances for chronic diseases, 30 minutes is still the recommendation. Even three 10-minute daily walks will benefit your health.
Whatever your goals are, start slowly. Consult your physician before embarking on a vigorous physical activity regimen.
Can you combine TV with fitness? Some people station their exercise equipment, such as treadmills or exercise bikes, in front of the TV. It’s also important, of course, to use the equipment once it’s in place. If you don’t have exercise equipment, walk in place as you’re entertained or exercise during commercials. The important thing is to move more.
Food, of course, is another part of the health equation. Healthier food choices can help prevent us “armchair quarterbacks” from becoming fluffy couch potatoes. The snack tips and following recipe are from the Wheat Foods Council (www.wheatfoods.org):
Everyone deserves a little treat now and then, especially during February, American Heart Month. Here’s a lower-calorie, lower-fat recipe for chocolate cake made with whole-wheat flour. Instead of frosting it, place some powdered sugar in a flour sifter and sprinkle over the top.