Challenging, lengthy workouts burn calories for weight loss and improve fitness, but moderate exercise may be the answer to making positive, long-term improvements in health. These are three reasons a 30-minute, moderate-intensity exercise session each day still might be the best choice for you.
It encourages a healthy lifestyle.
Moderate exercise may help you maintain the energy necessary to make healthy, active choices throughout your day. One study divided healthy, overweight men into a low exercise group that exercised 30 minutes a day, and a high exercise group that exercised 1 hour a day. Those in the low exercise group lost more weight (3.6 kilograms vs. 2.7 kilograms) over three months. They also reported feeling more energized and motivated to stay active throughout the day by taking the stairs and walking the dog. The high exercise group reported feelings of exhaustion with little motivation to add extra activity beyond their workouts.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) and high-intensity circuit training (HICT) are effective, but these challenging activities are not ideal for all fitness levels. They often leave beginners discouraged, decreasing motivation to stick with a fitness plan. Exercise must be both challenging and achievable for long-term success.
It reduces burnout.
Challenging workout programs promote a need to constantly push yourself to be better, stronger, and to work out longer. While there are benefits to setting long-term fitness goals, everyone needs a break from the pressure. Without one, you can easily get burned out and give up on exercise altogether. A moderate program that is both enjoyable and challenging will become something you look forward to. Exercise should not feel like a punishment that you dread.
Research shows that frozen foods can be as healthy as their fresh counterparts, if you choose wisely. Here are tips for selecting the healthiest frozen foods for your family.
Fruits and Vegetables
Plain frozen fruits and vegetables are often harvested at their peak ripeness and flash frozen, which helps to maintain their nutrients. Unfortunately, sauces and flavorings make some options high in fat, sodium, and sugar. It’s important to follow a few guidelines to ensure you get the healthiest version possible.
Choose vegetables without cheeses or sauces.
Beware of seasoned vegetables, which often contain excess sodium.
Skip vegetables that have added rice or pasta. Add your own during cooking to control the nutrition.
Choose fruits without added sugar or syrup.
Fish and Seafood
Much like frozen fruits and vegetables, fish and seafood are frozen soon after being caught, preserving their nutrients. If you don’t live near a coast with fresh-caught varieties, frozen varieties can be a healthy option for you and for the environment.
Avoid fried or breaded fish and seafood.
Check the labels of seasoned varieties for excess sodium.
Choose fish and seafood with lower mercury levels, such as salmon, tilapia, trout, sole, catfish, shrimp, and oysters. (More low mercury options.)
Frozen meals can be a healthier alternative to fast food or processed snacks when you are short on time. While there are many healthy options available, it’s important that you check nutrition labels closely to avoid getting excess calories, fat and sodium. These are a few things nutrition professionals recommend when it comes to selecting healthy frozen meals.
Choose a meal with 350 to 500 calories so that it feels like you have eaten a full meal and not a snack. Skimping on calories may leave you hungry.
Select meals with fewer than 600 milligrams of sodium.
Look for meals with no more than 3.5 grams of total fat per 100 calories, fewer than 2 grams of saturated fat per meal, and no trans fat.
Choose meals with at least 4 grams of fiber.
Look for meals with at least 15 grams of protein.
Choose meals that are balanced with a variety of ingredients that provide fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.
Apples are full of beneficial plant nutrients including polyphenols that act as disease-fighting antioxidants. This seasonal salad hints at fall with the addition of fresh celery, heart-healthy walnuts, sweet cranberries, and spices. It makes a healthy breakfast, dessert, or side dish.
Serving Size 1/4 recipe
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4.2g
4%Saturated Fat 0.7g
Trans Fat 0g
Total Carbohydrate 13.2g
Dietary Fiber 2.2g
The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Yield: 4 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
1 medium Granny Smith apple, cored
1 cup sliced celery
1 ½ tbsp chopped walnuts
1 tbsp dried cranberries, finely chopped
1/3 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
2 tsp honey
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground allspice
Slice the apple into matchsticks and place in a medium bowl. Add the celery, walnuts and cranberries.
In a small dish, stir together the yogurt, honey, cinnamon and allspice. Pour the yogurt sauce over the apple salad. Stir to coat all ingredients. Serve right away.
Hidden habits have a way of sneaking into your daily routine and preventing you from reaching your weight loss goals. These simple actions may seem harmless, but they can have enough impact on your calorie balance to keep the scale from moving in the right direction.
Staying up just a few more minutes.
Research shows that sleep deprivation causes an increase in the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates appetite and hunger. At the same time, there is a decrease in the hormone leptin, which signals satiety (fullness). Skimping on sleep may make you eat more.
Taking a few bites.
A bite here and a nibble there may seem insignificant to your total calorie intake, but that all depends on what you are eating. A few bites of cookie dough can contain as many as 120 calories. If you fail to add that to your food diary, it is easy to overlook extra calories that are keeping the weight on.
Cutting out early.
Skipping the last 10 minutes of indoor cycling class to beat traffic may get you home faster, but it isn’t helping you reach your goals. A 150-pound person burns 79 calories in 10 minutes of moderate indoor cycling. Skip out on five workouts and you will miss burning almost 400 calories!
Topping it off.
Salads, oatmeal, black bean tacos, and baked sweet potatoes are all healthy meals, but only if you don’t take the toppings too far. Nuts, seeds, dressings, cheese, croutons, and sour cream can all add delicious flavor when used in moderation. Go overboard, and you will quickly turn your meal from healthy to high-calorie.
Snacking on processed foods.
Packaged foods like crackers and cookies may be described as whole grain, diet, light, or natural, but that doesn’t mean they will help you lose weight. Excess sugars, fat-replacers, and sodium are all hidden ingredients that may make them too good to be true. At snack time, reach for fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds instead.
Skipping the water bottle.
Hydration plays a role in curbing hunger. Drinking water throughout the day will keep you feeling full and energetic. It can also keep you satisfied while replacing higher calorie drinks like soda and fruit juices.
Sneaking in sugar.
Controlling portions of pasta sauces, condiments, yogurt, granola bars, and cereals will keep calories in check, but it is the sugar that is the problem. Excess added sugar can cause you to crave more sugar, which can lead to eating the high-calorie dessert you don’t need.
New exercise gadgets come and go, but the medicine ball is a fitness tool that has been around for ages. Newer models come in a variety of weights and sizes with an easy-grip surface. Change up your strength training routine by using a medicine ball with these effective exercises.
Squat with Overhead Press
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Hold the medicine ball with both hands close to your body, at shoulder level. Squat and bend your knees to a 90 degree angle.* At the same time, push the medicine ball straight up overhead with your arms extended. Stand back up and return the ball to chest level.
Side Lunges with a Front Raise
Stand with feet together. Hold the ball in both hands with your arms extended down towards the floor. Step the right foot to the right and bend the right knee to 90 degrees.* (Your left foot should be flat on the floor with your left leg straight.) As you lunge, raise the ball out in front of you at chest level with straight arms. Lower the ball back to the starting position and step the right foot back to the center. Repeat on the left side, alternating sides with each lunge.
Forward Scissor Lunges
Stand with feet hip-width apart. Step forward with your right foot into a forward lunge. Bend your right knee to a 90-degree angle and lower your left knee towards the floor as your left heel raises off the ground.* Pass the medicine ball under your right knee from your left hand to your right hand. Return to the starting position. Lunge forward with your left leg and pass the ball under your left knee from your right arm to your left arm.
Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Hold the ball over your chest and push the ball into the air until your arms are fully extended. Lower to the starting position and repeat.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold the ball with both hands in the air over your right shoulder with your arms fully extended. Move the ball at a diagonal across your body and bend your left knee as you touch the ball the floor on the outside of your left foot. Return to the starting position and complete all repetitions before switching to the other side.
Triceps Overhead Press
Hold the medicine ball in both hands straight up overhead with your arms fully extended. Keep your arms close to your ears and slowly bend your elbows to lower the ball behind your head. Once your elbows bend to slightly less than a 90 degree angle, press the ball back up to the starting position.
Sit on the floor with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Hold a small medicine ball with both hands, close to your chest. Keeping your upper back straight, slowly lower it towards the floor until you feel your abdominals engage. Hold this position and lift your right foot about 6 inches off the floor. Pass the ball under your right knee from your left hand to your right hand. Switch legs and pass the ball under the left knee back to the left hand.
Sit on the floor with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Hold a small medicine ball with both hands, close to your chest. Keeping your upper back straight, slowly lower it towards the floor until you feel your abdominals engage. Hold the medicine out in front of you with both hands and your arms fully extended at chest level. Slowly rotate your torso to the right and move the ball to the right with straight, extended arms. Return to center and slowly rotate to the left.
Around the Core
Sit on the floor with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Hold a small medicine ball with both hands, close to your chest. Keeping your upper back straight, slowly lower it towards the floor until you feel your abdominals engage. Move the ball to your right hand, and pass it behind your back to your left hand. Continue to pass the ball in the same direction around your torso to complete your full number of repetitions before switching directions.
*When doing squats and lunges its important to practice safe form to protect your knees. Sit your bottom back as you squat and lower your body straight down when lunging to ensure that your knees do not push forward past your toes.