Lifestyle and Personal Health

2.2. Significance and Description of Lifestyle and Personal Health

It is too traditional and outdated to think of health as denoting freedom from diseases. In fact,

such an understanding makes the concept of health very narrow and incomplete. Contrary to

this, the modern conception of the term health implies complex dynamic qualities that allow

satisfying your needs regarding the various dimensions of health. With this conception,

health goes beyond treating diseases that involves an optimal state of well-being.

Health emphasizes the development of the whole person and thus, is multidimensional in

nature. Its components include physical health, mental health, emotional health, social

health and spiritual health. Practically, these components are interrelated with one

another. A poor level of health in one component adversely affects one or more components,

altering the balance so necessary for total health (well being). Attainment and maintenance

of a high level of health requires that each of these components be balanced according to

individual needs and goals.

Health, as a complex and dynamic phenomenon, depends to a great extent on the individual

making responsible and appropriate lifestyle decisions. In its real sense, such decisions

emphasize on making informed choices and taking thoughtful actions that will result in the

prevention of diseases and the promotion of health. It is estimated that over 50% of illnesses

can be prevented or their severity lessened by individuals taking responsibility for their

health and making sound choices based on current medical knowledge. The choices

individuals may often lengthen or shorten their lives and enhance or adversely affect their

quality of life depending on whether their health habits are good or destructive in nature.

Human health, well-being, and survival are ultimately dependent on the integrity of the planet

on which we live. Today, the natural world is under attack from the pressure of the enormous

numbers of people who live on it, and the wide range of their activities. An informed citizen

having a strong commitment to care for the environment is essential to the survival of our

planet.

The number of people who view pollution as a pressing personal concern has tripled in the

1990s. Interest in depletion of the ozone layer and global warming; increasing problems with

air, water, and solid waste pollution; deforestation; and destruction of habitat for endangered

species have prompted a national call for environmental protection and pollution prevention.

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The world population is increasing at unprecedented numbers. In early 1990s, it was nearly

5.3 billion and 23 babies were born every 5 seconds: that’s 397,440 new people every day,

or 145 million every year. This rate gives the planet an annual net population gain of 93

million people. Population experts believe that unless current birth and death rates change

radically, 10.4 billion people will be competing for the world’s diminishing resources by the

year 2029.

The population explosion is not distributed equally around the world. The United States and

Western Europe have the lowest birth rates. At the same time, these two regions produce

more grain and other foodstuffs than their populations consume. Countries that can least

afford a high birth rate in economic, social, health, and nutritional terms are the ones with the

most rapidly expanding populations.

The vast bulk of population growth in developing countries, like Ethiopia, is occurring in

urban areas. These cities’ populations are doubling every 10 to 15 years, overwhelming their

governments’ attempts to provide clean water, sewage facilities, adequate transportation,

and other basic services. As early as 1964, researcher Ronald Wraith described the Third

World giant city plagued by pollution and shantytowns as, “megalopolis-the city running riot

with no one able to control it.”

As the global population expands, so does the competition for the earth’s resources.

Environmental degradation caused by loss of topsoil, pesticides, toxic residues,

deforestation, global warming, air pollution, acid rain, a rapidly expanding population, and

increasing poverty is exerting heavy pressure on natural resources and the capacity of

natural resources to support human life and world health.

 Some people today think of health as the responsibility of doctors, hospitals, clinics,

insurance companies, and the government. They feel that health is someone else’s

responsibility, not their own. If they become sick, they reason that the doctor will prescribe

the right medicine or will send them to the hospital or to a specialist who will provide the

proper remedy. It is important to realize, however, that health cannot be purchased or the

responsibility relegated to some other person or agency. Health is an obligation on the part

of each individual, and it is erroneous to equate more health service with better health.

Instead, individuals must take responsibility for their own health.

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The decisions that presence, families and communities make will have an impact on their

health. They are the ones who decide what to eat and when and if to exercise, drink, engage

in drug abuse, smoke, or see a doctor. Thus, the decisions they make will leave their imprint

on their health and well-being.

The challenge of attaining the optimal level of health for ourselves and our loved ones is a

lifetime asset. No one can do the job for us. This is a responsibility each person should

assume to the extent he or she is able, with conviction and diligence.

The HELP philosophy

The HELP philosophy can provide a basis for making healthy lifestyle change. HELP stands

for:

H = Health

E = Everyone

L = Lifetime

P = Personal

1. The H in HELP stands for “health”. One theory that has been extensively tested indicates

that people who believe in the benefits of healthy lifestyles are more likely to engage in

healthy behaviors. The theory also suggests that people who state intentions to put their

beliefs into action are likely to adopt behaviors that lead to health, wellness, and fitness.

2. The E in HELP stands for “everyone”. Accepting the fact that anyone can change a

behavior or lifestyle means that YOU are included. Nevertheless, many adults feel

ineffective in making lifestyle changes. Physical activity is not just for athletes, it is for all

people. Eating well is not just for other people, you can do it too. All people can learn

stress-management techniques. Healthy lifestyles can be made practical by everyone.

3. The L in HELP stands for “lifetime”. Young people sometimes feel immortal because the

harmful effects of unhealthy lifestyles are often not immediate. As we grow older, we

begin to realize that we are not immortal and that unhealthy lifestyles have cumulative

negative effects. Starting early in life to emphasize healthy behaviors results in long-term

health, wellness, and fitness benefits. Healthy lifestyles should be based on Personal

needs.

2.5. Physical Activity and Health

2.5.1. Definition of Basic Terms

Words such as exercise, physical activity, moderate physical activity and regular physical

activity seem to be very similar. But in the professional literatures each of them has

distinctive features that possibly differentiate one from the other. Hence it is important to

briefly describe the meaning of such commonly used terms in order to avoid confusion in

understanding them.

¾ Exercise: is a planned or structured physical activity done to improve or maintain

one or more components of physical fitness.

¾ Physical fitness: is a measure of a person’s ability to perform physical activities.

¾ Physical activity: is defined as any form of bodily movement produced by skeletal

muscles that results in an expenditure of energy.

¾ Leisure: time physical activity: is physical activity that is performed during recreation

or any additional time other than the regular job duties.

¾ Moderate intensity physical activity: is any activity that burns 3.5 to 7 calories per

minute.

¾ Occupational physical activity: is any activity completed regularly as part of one’s

job. It includes lifting, pushing, carpentry, packing boxes etc.

¾ Regular physical activity: represents any physical activity that is performed 3 or

more days of the week.

¾ Transportation physical activity: is gained while moving from one place to another,

usually covering a reasonable distance. It includes walking, biking or similar

activities used to get to work, school, place of worship, stores etc.

¾ Vigorous intensity physical activity: is any activity that burns more than 7

kcal/min. It may be intense enough to represent a substantial challenge to an

individual and results in a significant increase in heart and breathing rate.

¾ Calorie: is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature 1o

c. is

also a measure of energy from food.

¾ Kilocalorie: is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1kg of water

1o

c.

¾ Inactivity: an individual state of not being engaged in any regular pattern of physical

activity beyond daily functioning.

¾ Sedentary: is defined in terms of little or no leisure time physical activity.

2.5.2. Components of physical fitness and their meaning

Your overall physical fitness is composed of five components such as cardiorespiratory

endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and body composition.

1. Cardiorespiratory endurance- is the ability to sustain vigorous activity that requires

increased oxygen intake for extended periods of time. This component is important in

many situations that demand you to resume working effort for a prolonged period of time.

2. Muscular strength- is the amount of force that your muscles exert to overcome a given

resistance. Good muscle tone, which is the result of adequate muscular strength, is

conducive to an erect bearing posture. For example, strong abdominal muscles help to

prevent protruding abdomen and even lower back problems.

3. Muscular endurance: is the ability to perform repeated muscular movements for a long

period of time without becoming tired. Having good muscular endurance helps you to

continue doing a relatively hard and difficult task over a long period of time without

complete fatigue or exhaustion.

4. Flexibility- is the ability to move freely throughout a full range of motion about a joint or a

series of joints. Flexibility enables you to perform most active sports such as gymnastics.

It is also important for maintaining good posture. Furthermore, it is essential in carrying

on many daily activities and can help to prevent muscle strain and orthopedic problems,

such as backaches.

5. Body compositions – is defined as the percentage of fat tissue and lean tissue in your

body. Your body is made up of two types of tissues, that is, fat tissue and lean tissue.

Lean tissue refers to that part of your body composition, which consists of muscles,

bones, cartilage, connective tissue, nerves, skin, and internal organs.

In order to determine your level of fitness, you should evaluate all the five components

together. You can use the tests and their interpretation stated in the annexes part of this

module.

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2.5.4. Basic Considerations to Start Physical Activity

If you have not started doing physical activity yet, consider the following important

precautions for a healthy start:

• To avoid soreness and injury, you should start out physical activity slowly and

gradually build up to the desired amount to give your body time to adult.

• Any one with chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, or

obesity should first consult a physician before beginning a new program of

physical activity.

• People with disabilities should first consult a physician before beginning a

program of physical activity to which they are unaccustomed.

• men over age 40 and women over age 50 should consult a physician first

before beginning a new vigorous physical activity program to be sure they do

not have heart disease or other health problems.

• Similarly, if you are a man over 35 years old or a woman over 40 and have

not been active for over six months or have any chronic diseases, you need a

medical check-up before starting any exercise program.

2.5.5. Nutrition and Physical Activity

Good health depends up on many things-heredity, environment, lifestyle, attitude, mental

health, and physical activity in addition to diet. But nutritional knowledge, coupled with good

eating habits based on variety and moderation, are the cornerstones in a foundation of good

health.

Basic Nutrition Principles

Nutrition is the science of the substances that are found in food that are essential for life. A

substance is essential if it must be supplied by the diet. There are six classes of nutrients:

1. Carbohydrates,

2. Fats,

3. Proteins,

4. Vitamins,

5. Minerals, and

6. Water.

Nutrients are necessary for three major roles:

• Growth repair and maintenance of all tissues.

• Regulation of body processes.

• Providing energy.

Carbohydrates:

Carbohydrates are the body’s most efficient source of energy and should be relied on to fill

that need. For any individual, carbohydrates should account for 55% or more of caloric

intake.

Fats:

Fats are another essential component of the diet. They are the most concentrated source of

energy, providing more than twice the calories per gram when compared to carbohydrates or

proteins. Fat is used as a primary source of energy. A minimal amount of fat is essential for

normal growth and development.

Some dietary fat is needed to make food more flavorful and for sources of the fat-soluble

vitamins. Fat represents approximately 30% of the total caloric intake.

Proteins:

Proteins make up the major structural components of the body. They are needed for growth

maintenance, and repair of all body tissues. In addition, proteins are needed to make

enzymes, many hormones, and antibodies that help fight infection. Protein intake should be

around 12 to 15% of total calories. The body’s need for protein increases during periods of

growth, such as during infancy, adolescence, and pregnancy. Also breast feeding women

have higher needs because proteins are being used to make the protein in their milk.

Vitamins:

Although they are required in very small amounts when compared to water, proteins,

carbohydrates, and fats, vitamins perform essential roles primarily as regulators of body

processes. Vitamins are classified in to two groups:

1. The fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) are dissolved in fats and stored in the body.

2. The water-soluble vitamins (B-vitamins and C) are dissolved in watery solutions and

are not stored.

THE AMOUNT OF CALORIES BURNED IN VARIOUS ACTIVITIES

Activity Energy used

Sleeping 0.9 Kcal/min

Sitting 1.4 kcal/min

Standing 1.7 kcal/min

Slow walk 3.0 kcal/min

House work 3.5 kcal/min

Medium walk 5.0 kcal/min

Gardening 7.0 kcal/min

Dancing- 7.0 kcal/min

Walk hard step up hill walk 8.4 kcal/min

Climbing stairs 10.2 kcal/min

Heavy work 13.3 kcal/min

Climbing stairs with load 16.8 kcal/min

Walking (4-7km/h) 4-7 kcal/min

Jogging (7-9km/h) 7-10 kcal/min

Cycling (12-20km/h) 6-13 kcal/min

Swimming (35-50km/h) 8-14 kcal/min

THE NUMBER OF CALORIES FOUND IN VARIOUS TYPES OF FOOD

Food Energy Value

Bread, one slice 50-80 kcal

Milk, med glass 80-120 kcal

Egg, one 80-100 kcal

Potato, egg sized 60-80 kcal

Carrot, medium 30-50 kcal

Butter, small spoon 100-120 kcal

Orange, medium 50-70 kcal

Cheese, slice 50-70 kcal

Chicken leg 100-120 kcal

Pork chop 250-300 kcal

Roast beef, portion 200-250 kcal

Piece of cake 150-250 kcal

Note 1 kcal = 4.18 KJ

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