Interactive Tools Encourage Healthier Living
If you're concerned that your current health could hamper your hopes for a longer, active life, you're not alone.
By 2030, the American Hospital Association estimates that more than 37 million midlife adults will be managing more than one chronic condition such as obesity or diabetes. Because simple food and activity changes can improve your quality of life for years to come, start on the path to a healthier life with the free online Meals Matter Nutrition & Fitness Challenge at www.mealsmatter.org .
"It's easy to get overwhelmed by all the nutrition and fitness advice available online," said Andrea Garen, M.A., R.D., project manager at Dairy Council of California, which sponsors Meals Matter. "So the Challenge gets you started with expert tools that condense volumes of data into personalized recommendations based on your age, health concerns and other factors. Setting goals based on these recommendations helps you live a healthier life on your own terms."
During Week 1 -- Fueling Your Life, the interactive Personal Nutrition Planner tool will provide tailored food recommendations and explain how nutrient-rich foods such as vegetables, low-fat dairy foods and whole grains contribute to optimal health. Articles on functional foods, which provide health benefits beyond their basic nutrients, will help you reduce your risk of certain diseases and improve how your body functions by making informed food choices.
During Week 2 -- Finding Balance, the MyFitness Planner guides you to appropriate physical activity choices to balance your food choices and minimize the so-called "common signs of aging" like stiff muscles or achy joints. Depending on your needs, you might set a goal to increase your cardio workouts or add exercises like Tai Chi or yoga to improve flexibility.
Finally, in Week 3 -- Making Time, the new Food Personality Quiz matches recipe suggestions and meal-planning tools to your unique style -- whether you are a "gourmet" or "convenience" cook. Choose from thousands of recipes online to plan a weekly menu, and then print out a customized shopping list for the week. Save your favorite recipes in a personal cookbook for quick reference.
"The Challenge helps address your health needs with food and activity choices and creates a plan to make them part of your daily life," said Garen. "Developing these habits over time, like during the three-week challenge, helps you establish an effective, sustainable path to a longer and more active life."