National Nutrition Month celebrated in March

National Nutrition Month celebrated in March The South Dakota Nutrition Coordinating Committee (SDNCC) is celebrating National Nutrition Month in March by spreading the word of nutrition, health and fitness issues through the national theme of "Food and Fitness: Health for a Lifetime."

The SDNCC is composed of state programs and agencies concerned with nutrition, food distribution and purchase.

According to Carol Pitts, Extension food and nutrition specialist at South Dakota State University, the first key to fitness is to add activity to your life.

"Physical activity is the key to fitness for people of all ages. The benefits of an active lifestyle are realized by men and women, young and old."

Pitts says the results of exercise are overwhelmingly positive. Children who are active beginning in their early years are less likely to develop childhood obesity. Women and girls in their teens especially benefit from the bone protection offered with weight-bearing exercise, such as walking.

Adults who give up the couch-potato lifestyle lower their risk for chronic diseases such as high-blood pressure, obesity and heart disease.

"It's never too late for older adults to become more active, even seniors can build-up muscle," said Pitts. "Regardless of your age, exercise helps control body fat, aids in sleep, enhances appearance, helps regulate appetite, and promotes emotional well-being."

Pitts also says you don't have to huff and puff or do vigorous exercise to reap the benefits of physical activity.

Gradually build up by adding just a few minutes of extra activity daily. The activity doesn't all have to be at once either, 10 separate minutes of individual activities can equal the 30-minute exercise goal.

Pitts notes though that individuals should choose activities they enjoy either by themselves or with a group. But, always remember to be consistent and make a conscious effort to include daily activity.

Smart eating also helps to keep the body fit, and the easiest way to maintain healthy eating is by following the recommendations of the USDA Food Guide Pyramid.

People can enjoy a lifetime of healthy living by eating for fitness, which is the goal of the National Nutrition Month Eat Right America campaign sponsored by the American Dietetic Association (ADA) and its national center for nutrition and dietetics.

"The benefits you get from being fit are great. Fitness means that you are following a healthful lifestyle, which can reduce your risk of developing heart disease, obesity, and other chronic diseases," said Pitts. "Smart eating helps you stay fit throughout your lifetime."

To get fit and stay fit, make time for physical activity. Regular exercise enhances fitness by building strength, flexibility and endurance, including cardiovascular endurance that strengthens the heart.

It helps people achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. Exercise also starts children on the road to fitness for their adult years.

"It is important to set a healthy lifestyle goal and healthful exercise plan that fits into a busy schedule, or that includes a variety of activities enough to build endurance, while avoiding injury," said Pitts.

For more information on the Eat Right campaign or National Nutrition Month contact you local Extension office, or the ADA website at www.eatright.org.

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