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Physical activity and a balanced diet go hand in hand in fight against obesity, which often occurs as a result of wrong behaviors and unhealthy dietary patterns. The global trend today is to prevent obesity given its association with many diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, bone and joint problems and many others.

In order to reach the desired goal, the concerned authorities including ministries of health and international organizations in cooperation with reputable medical companies are focusing on launching awareness campaigns urging community members of all ages to make any physical activity because of its importance in the fight against obesity on one hand and for the prevention of many diseases and reducing the risks of becoming obese. Since a healthy and balance diet is key, it is important to focus on healthy eating patterns that, if combined with exercise, will yield amazing results.

First, what is obesity? What causes it?

Overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health. Body mass index (BMI) is a simple index of weight-for-height that is commonly used to classify overweight and obesity in adults. The BMI is the body weight (kilograms) divided by height squared (meters).

A BMI of 18.5-24.9 indicates that you are at a healthy weight for your height. The following table shows the classification of results after dividing the weight by height.

The fundamental cause of obesity and overweight is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended. Bad eating habits are one of the main causes of obesity including junk food, sugary drinks accompanied with lack of physical activity and sedentary lifestyle.

Obesity tends to run in families and is also one of the most common causes. One study found that 80% of the offspring of two obese parents were obese in contrast to less than 10% of the offspring of two parents who were of normal weight.

Hypothyroidism, or low levels of thyroid hormone, is a hormonal cause of obesity. It slows your metabolism and decreases growth or repair of many parts of the body. 

Mental well-being is also another cause for obesity and people who are depressed tend to eat more when they feel down. Obesity is often associated with emotional issues, such as sadness, anxiety, and depression.

Physical activity to prevent obesity

Regular physical activity is important for good health, and it’s especially important if you’re trying to lose weight or to maintain a healthy weight. In addition to helping you reach and maintain a healthy weight, staying active and eating better may lower your chances of developing numerous diseases.

If you’re not active enough, you do not use the energy provided by the food you eat, and the extra energy you consume is stored by the body as fat. Eating a well-balanced diet can help you get the calories and nutrients you need to fuel your daily activities, including regular exercise.

Exercise can boost your metabolism. Building lean muscle mass by exercising can slightly increase your resting metabolic rate. In addition, vigorous exercise can increase your metabolic rate for hours after exercise. Exercise therefore increases the chances of long-term weight loss due to its role in accelerating metabolism, building muscle mass and eliminating the accumulated fat, especially if accompanied by a low-calorie diet.

The WHO has recommended doing any kind of physical activity daily for at least an hour as part of its global action plan on physical activity 2018–2030: More active people for a healthier world. It urged people to the need of reducing sedentary lifestyles in order promote health and fitness for all. Strong evidence shows that physical inactivity increases the risk of many adverse health conditions, including the world’s major non-communicable diseases (NCDs) of coronary heart disease (CHD), type 2 diabetes, and breast and colon cancers, and shortens life expectancy.

Experts in this field agree that the main goal isn’t just exercise but always getting rid of sedentary lifestyle. Meeting your goal may be as simple as an extra five-minute walk, or even parking a few cars further away at the supermarket, depending on your speed and stride.

A Balanced Diet

The real key to safe and successful weight loss is to adopt a healthy lifestyle that suits your individual needs and that you can maintain for life. 

When you reach the desired weight, the person should maintain his weight loss by following a healthy lifestyle consisting of a balanced diet and regular exercise. Physical activity plus diet produces better results than either diet or physical activity alone.

Changing bad dietary habits and exercising regularly are the most important part of a weight-loss plan. To remain in balance and maintain your body weight, the calories consumed from foods must be balanced by the calories used in normal body functions, daily activities and exercise.

Many factors can affect your weight, including genetics, age, gender, lifestyle, family habits and culture, sleep, and even where you live and work. Some of these factors can make it hard to lose weight or keep weight off. But being active and choosing healthy foods has health benefits for everyone—no matter your age or weight. It’s important to choose nutrient-dense foods and be active at least 150 minutes per week. Fiber is found in healthy foods including vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains. Some studies have shown that simply eating more fiber-rich foods may help you lose weight and keep it off. Increasing your intake is as easy as adding beans to your salad, eating oats for breakfast or snacking on fiber-rich nuts and seeds. 

Including protein-rich foods like eggs in your breakfast has been shown to benefit weight loss. Increasing protein intake in the morning may also help you avoid unhealthy snacking and improve appetite control throughout the day. Focus on hydrating with water to minimize the number of calories you drink throughout the day. Refined carbs include sugars and grains that have had their fiber and other nutrients removed. These types of foods are low in fiber, are digested quickly and only keep you full for a short period of time. Instead, choose sources of complex carbohydrates like oats, ancient grains like quinoa and barley, or veggies like carrots and potatoes. They’ll help keep you fuller for longer and contain many more nutrients than refined sources of carbohydrates. 

Snacking on unhealthy foods can cause weight gain. An easy way to help shed pounds or maintain a healthy weight is to make an effort to have healthy snacks available at home, in your car and at your place of work. 

Diseases caused by obesity and treated by exercise

With a significant uncontrolled weight gain and trying to lose weight over time, health problems will begin to emerge. Obesity increases respiratory problems; people who are obese cannot breathe normally, especially during sleep, and are unable to move easily. There is also an increased risk of developing osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes, stress and fertility problems. Obesity also affects self-esteem and causes feelings of severe depression due to a difficulty in coping with obesity. Regular exercise can help fight atherosclerosis by reducing the amount of fat in your blood, lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol, and controlling your weight. Physical activity contributes to strengthening the muscles, and thus maintaining bone strength, which helps in the prevention of osteoporosis. There are a few ways that exercise lowers blood sugar: Insulin sensitivity is increased, so your muscle cells are better able to use any available insulin to take up glucose during and after activity. When your muscles contract during activity, your cells are able to take up glucose and use it for energy whether insulin is available or not. The less active you are, the greater your risk of type 2 diabetes. Physical activity helps you control your weight, uses up glucose as energy and makes your cells more sensitive to insulin.

Doing moderate exercise is among the steps that should be taken including taking regular walks or doing other light sports that contribute to burning fat and getting rid of excess calorie over time. Diet and exercise are both key components of a successful strategy to beat or manage diabetes. Studies show that diet and exercise can sharply lower the likelihood of diabetes, even in people who are at high risk of developing it. Other studies also show that lifestyle interventions can improve insulin sensitivity and blood lipid profiles and help lower high blood sugar levels.

Cardiovascular health and diabetes are also intricately linked. Committing to a better diet and daily exercise promotes better blood sugar levels, blood lipid control, and mood. It also leads to higher energy levels, which makes it easier to exercise. Daily exercise helps keep blood vessels healthy, makes you feel better about yourself, and may aide in weight loss. 

Regular exercise also helps to keep arteries and other blood vessels flexible, ensuring good blood flow and normal blood pressure. It is an important way to lower your risk of heart disease. Exercising for 30 minutes or more on most days can help you lose weight, improve your cholesterol, and even lower your blood pressure. Obesity is also associated with an increased risk of sudden cardiac death. Obesity is a potent risk factor for the development of kidney disease. The increase in intraglomerular pressure can damage the kidney structure and raise the risk of developing chronic kidney disease in the long term. Hence, maintaining optimal weight and avoiding obesity while following a healthy lifestyle is the best way to prevent chronic kidney disease in the future.

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