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Why Is Gym Class Important?

You probably did not know it then, but the gym classes you took during your school years influenced the person you became. If you had well-taught stimulating classes in the gymnasium, you learned valuable physical skills, set a pattern for lifelong fitness and grew socially from your experiences. For the same reasons, children still benefit from gym class at school

Physical Exercise

Gym classes provide students with physical exercise on a consistent basis. It is particularly important for the physical well-being of children who do not engage in physical activities outside of school. A good physical education class will feature activities that raise the heart rate, increase the pulse rate and rev up metabolism. According to the American Heart Association, gym classes can help teach children skills that can help them be active their whole lives. The physical exertion also helps the mind, as children will find they are able to think more clearly and are able to focus better in other classes following a physical education period.

Coordination and Flexibility

Physical education helps kids strengthen their coordination. A good gym class will provide a variety of activities that increase coordination, such as ball throwing and catching, swinging a bat, aiming a bow and arrow, and maneuvering a racket.

Flexibility comes into play with gymnastic activities such as splits, vaults, backbends and walkovers. Such physical skills will help children in athletic pursuits, dance and in everyday movement. According to the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, the development of physical skills provided by physical education increases the self-esteem of individuals.

Endorphin Production

The physical exertion involved in gym class results in endorphin production in the brain. Endorphins are the “feel good” hormones that improve mood and outlook. Children who engage in robust gym classes benefit from the release of endorphins. The physical activity becomes fun. The endorphins’ effects allow kids to go to their next classes feeling cheerful, relaxed and ready to focus on learning new ideas.


The social aspect of gym class should not be overlooked. Physical education class is often the only time of day in which kids can talk, laugh and play with one another without breaking school rules. The atmosphere is also one in which children can learn important social cues that will help them interact with others successfully. Children develop specific social skills such as teamwork, good sportsmanship, and learning and following rules. Skirmishes between children do occur while playing competitive games, but a good teacher can guide them in learning to resolve these natural disputes in a positive manner.



The Lifelong Benefits of Exercise

Stop procrastinating and start exercising! The benefits of physical fitness are too great to ignore.

Feel younger, live longer. It’s no slogan — these are actual benefits of regular exercise. People with high levels of physical fitness are at lower risk of dying from a variety of causes, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Physical Fitness: What the Benefits of Exercise Mean for You

There’s more good news. Research also shows that exercise enhances sleep, prevents weight gain, and reduces the risk of high blood pressurestroke, type 2 diabetes, and even depression.

“One study found that when breast cancer survivors engaged in exercise, there were marked improvements in physical activity, strength, maintaining weight, and social well-being,” explains Rachel Permuth-Levine, PhD, deputy director for the Office of Strategic and Innovative Programs at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

“Another study looked at patients with stable heart failure and determined that exercise relieves symptoms, improves quality of life, reduces hospitalization, and in some cases, reduces the risk of death,” adds Dr. Permuth-Levine. She points out that exercise isn’t just important for people who are already living with health conditions: “If we can see benefits of moderate exercise in people who are recovering from disease, we might see even greater benefits in those of us who are generally well.”

Physical Fitness: Exercise Basics

Physical activity doesn’t have to be strenuous to produce results. Even moderate exercise five to six times a week can lead to lasting health benefits.

When incorporating more physical activity into your life, remember three simple guidelines:

  1. Exercise at moderate intensity for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes spread over the course of each week.
  2. Avoid periods of inactivity; some exercise at any level of intensity is better than none.
  3. At least twice a week, supplement aerobic exercise(cardio) with weight-bearing activities that strengthen all major muscle groups.

Physical Fitness: Making Exercise a Habit

The number one reason most people say they don’t exercise is lack of time. If you find it difficult to fit extended periods of exercise into your schedule, keep in mind that short bouts of physical activity in 10-minute segments will nonetheless help you achieve health benefits. Advises Permuth-Levine, “Even in the absence of weight loss, relatively brief periods of exercise every day reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.”

Set realistic goals and take small steps to fit more movement into your daily life, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator and walking to the grocery store instead of driving. “The key is to start gradually and be prepared,” says Permuth-Levine. “Have your shoes, pedometer, and music ready so you don’t have any excuses.”

To help you stick with your new exercise habit, vary your routine, like swimming one day and walking the next. Get out and start a baseball or soccer game with your kids. Even if the weather doesn’t cooperate, have a plan B — use an exercise bike in your home, scope out exercise equipment at a nearby community center, or consider joining a health club. The trick is to get to the point where you look at exercise like brushing your teeth and getting enough sleep — as essential to your well-being.

Remember that physical fitness is attainable. Even with small changes, you can reap big rewards that will pay off for years to come.

Optimum nutrition for sports performance: macronutrients & micronutrients

A well-balanced and varied diet will usually be enough to meet the nutritional needs of most physically active people. The tips below give advice on how to eat and drink well while being active, to help us feel energetic, perform well and recover faster.

A normal diet containing 1,800-2,400 calories per day (25-35 kcal/kg bodyweight) typically provides enough energy for exercise (where one exercise session burns 200-400 calories). We get our energy and nutrients mainly from the three macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein and fat. The following advice is based on the energy and nutrient requirements of adults involved in general fitness programmes (e.g., exercising 30-40 minutes per day, 3 times per week), although carbohydrate loading for athletes is briefly discussed. Exact needs will vary based on individual factors such as age, gender, height and activity level.



Carbohydrates are an important source of energy. A normal diet, where approximately half (45-55%) of the daily calories come from carbohydrates, provides enough for most moderately active people. For example, a person weighing 70 kg needs about 210-350 g carbohydrates per day,2 preferably coming from complex carbohydrates which contain fibre including whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

The following examples each give 30 g carbohydrate:

  • Bowl of oats (45 g)
  • 2 slices of bread
  • 4 crispbreads
  • ½ serving of pasta or rice (~40 g uncooked)
  • 1 large banana (~145 g)
  • 3 servings (3 x 80 g) of high-carb vegetables like lentils, peas, sweetcorn, carrots
  • 1 large potato (~150 g)
  • Fruit smoothie (250 ml)
  • (or Sports drinks (500 ml): see fluid section for more details)

Very active people, who perform high intensity exercise regularly (e.g. 2-3 hours intense exercise per day, 5-6 times per week), will need to consume extra energy and increase carbohydrate intake to 55-65% of total daily calories. This can come from carbohydrate rich foods that are low in fibre such as white bread and non-wholegrain cereal products or fruit juices and smoothies as well as sportsdrinks. The exact amount needed increases with the amount and the intensity of exercise.2

When is ‘carbohydrate loading’ useful?

‘Carbohydrate loading’ is useful for athletes taking part in events lasting more than 90 mins to maximise energy stores before their event. This involves eating 10-12 g of carbohydrate per kg body weight, per day, for 1.5-2 days before the event, while also resting from training.3 For a person weighing 70 kg, this translates to 700–840 g carbohydrate per day (contributing 2,800-3,350 kcal). Thus, the intake of carbohydrate should be doubled or tripled for one or two days before the high intensity exercise.

“Periodised carbohydrate intake” involves varying carbohydrate intake in relation to exercise sessions (e.g. training in a fasted state, eating high carbohydrate for competitions). This can improve performance in endurance sports such as 10 km races. A qualified sports nutritionist/dietitian can advise on a periodised plan to suit your needs including what types of food to eat and when.

Is eating low-carbohydrate beneficial for exercise?

There have been claims in the media that a low-carbohydrate high-fat diet (75–80% fat) can improve performance in athletes, by increasing the amount of fat that muscles burn and reducing how much they rely on carbohydrate. However, research shows eating a low-carbohydrate high-fat diet does not benefit performance.This is because a high fat diet decreases efficiency of the muscle during exercise.


Dietary protein is important to repair muscles after exercise and to make new muscle. Those who follow a general fitness program have the same protein needs as the general population, which is about 0.8 g of protein per 1 kg of body weight per day. If training intensely, we need extra protein (1.4-2 g/kg body weight per day, or around 100-140 g protein per day for a person weighing 70 kg) Be careful not to exceed the recommendations, since an excessive protein intake can have negative effects on several organs, such as the kidneys.

The following examples each give 10 g of protein.

  • 2 small eggs
  • 50 g fish or chicken
  • 120 g tofu
  • 200 g yoghurt
  • 250 ml cows’ milk / 300 ml soy milk
  • 40 g cheese
  • 60 g nuts or seeds
  • 150 g kidney beans

Meat, fish, eggs, and milk are high quality protein sources, as they contain high levels of essential amino acids, which are needed for protein synthesis in muscles. Most research on optimal protein sources for active people has focused on milk proteins (casein and whey). Milk proteins are better digested and absorbed, and support muscle build up better than soy protein.15 Vegans can meet their daily needs by eating a variety of protein-rich plant foods such as legumes (e.g. beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils), grains, nuts and seeds.


Active people need a moderate amount of fat (about 30% of daily calories), which can easily be achieved by including oily fish (like salmon), vegetable oils or spreads, nuts, seeds and avocado in the diet.

Micronutrients and specialised products

A healthy and balanced diet, including a variety of fruits and vegetables, should provide all the micronutrients most active people need. Specialised products like meal replacement powders, protein powders, energy bars and energy gels are not recommended to the general population, as they cannot replace a healthy balanced diet and are costly. Some of these products may be recommended for active individuals involved in endurance exercise.For example, carbohydrate-electrolyte solutions can enhance water absorption during exercise, hence helping with hydration while maintaing endurance performance. Active people restricting calorie intake, or following a vegetarian or vegan diet, should consult a nutritionists/dietitian about whether a low-dose multivitamin and mineral supplement may be needed in addition to a healthy diet.1 When restricting calorie intake, meal replacement powders could be effective for reducing the body weight and for weight loss maintenance, but their consumption is only advisable in people with overweight.

Before and during exercise

Carbohydrate is stored in our muscles and liver. Eating meals or snacks that contain carbohydrate 1–4 hours before we exercise helps to top up our fuel stores, giving energy to exercise for 90 minutes up to 3 hours. If you want to eat something shortly before your exercise simple carbohydrates (e.g. banana) are the best option. This is due to the quick release of energy.

During endurance exercise (e.g. lasting longer than one hour), eating 30-60 g carbohydrates every hour can help to avoid low energy, low blood sugar levels, and a slow recovery. This helps contribute to a better performance. Suitable sources can be a sports drink, a banana, a cereal bar, or an energy gel.

After exercise

Our body needs the right fuel to recover and to rebuild the energy stores after exercising and to build muscle. Eating within 30 minutes after exercising (about 20 g of protein with carbohydrates) is recommended. This is especially important if your last meal was more than 3-4 hours before your workout or if you plan to exercise again within the next 8 hours.

  • Examples of recovery snacks
  • Cheese sandwich and a handful of dried apricots
  • Pasta with chicken breast
  • 3 oatcakes, hummus, and a glass of milk
  • A banana, cereal bar, and a bowl of fromage frais

You may also choose to eat a full meal shortly after exercise, instead of having a snack.

The effect of milk on performance has been extensively researched. Drinking milk for recovery is useful for building muscle, reducing damage exercise causes to muscles, replenishing energy stores and hydration.


Hydration is important as losing 2% or more of our body weight via water losses reduces exercise performance. In the 2–4 hrs before you exercise, drink 350–700 ml of fluids. During exercise, drink 400-800 ml per hour, depending on how much you sweat, and the heat and humidity. Sports drinks can be useful to maintain hydration levels for optimal endurance in hot and humid conditions during intense and long exercise sessions. To rehydrate after exercise, water and milk are good options.Large amounts of electrolytes including sodium can be lost in sweat, so if sweat losses are high, drink something containing electrolytes (such as an orange juice or a sports drink), especially when exercising for more than 2 hours. Alcohol consumption should be avoided, because consuming alcohol tends to have negative effects on hydration, and decreases exercise performance.

Key messages

  • Focus on getting carbohydrate, protein and fat from a variety of foods, including lots of different fruits and vegetables
  • Eat a meal or snack 1 to 4 hours before exercise
  • Athletes engaging in sports sessions longer than 90 minutes may benefit from carbohydrate loading in the days before the event
  • For optimum recovery, eat carbohydrate and protein together within 30 minutes after exercising
  • Hydrate before, during, and after exercise
  • For individual advice, particularly if the diet is restrictive, seek guidance from a sports nutritionist/dietitian

10 Healthy Lifestyle Tips for Adults



  1. Eat a variety of foods
  2. Base your diet on plenty of foods rich in carbohydrates
  3. Replace saturated with unsaturated fat
  4. Enjoy plenty of fruits and vegetables
  5. Reduce salt and sugar intake
  6. Eat regularly, control the portion size
  7. Drink plenty of fluids
  8. Maintain a healthy body weight
  9. Get on the move, make it a habit!
  10. Start now! And keep changing gradually.

1. Eat a variety of foods 

For good health, we need more than 40 different nutrients, and no single food can supply them all. It is not about a single meal, it is about a balanced food choice over time that will make a difference!

  • A high-fat lunch could be followed by a low-fat dinner.
  • After a large meat portion at dinner, perhaps fish should be the next day’s choice?

2. Base your diet on plenty of foods rich in carbohydrates

About half the calories in our diet should come from foods rich in carbohydrates, such as cereals, rice, pasta, potatoes, and bread. It is a good idea to include at least one of these at every meal. Wholegrain foods, like wholegrain bread, pasta, and cereals, will increase our fibre intake.

3. Replace saturated with unsaturated fat

Fats are important for good health and proper functioning of the body. However, too much of it can negatively affect our weight and cardiovascular health. Different kinds of fats have different health effects, and some of these tips could help us keep the balance right:

  • We should limit the consumption of total and saturated fats (often coming from foods of animal origin), and completely avoid trans fats; reading the labels helps to identify the sources.
  • Eating fish 2-3 times a week, with at least one serving of oily fish, will contribute to our right intake of unsaturated fats.
  • When cooking, we should boil, steam or bake, rather than frying, remove the fatty part of meat, use vegetable oils.

4. Enjoy plenty of fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are among the most important foods for giving us enough vitamins, minerals and fibre. We should try to eat at least 5 servings a day. For example, a glass of fresh fruit juice at breakfast, perhaps an apple and a piece of watermelon as snacks, and a good portion of different vegetables at each meal.

5. Reduce salt and sugar intake

A high salt intake can result in high blood pressure, and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. There are different ways to reduce salt in the diet:

  • When shopping, we could choose products with lower sodium content.
  • When cooking, salt can be substituted with spices, increasing the variety of flavours and tastes.
  • When eating, it helps not to have salt at the table, or at least not to add salt before tasting.

Sugar provides sweetness and an attractive taste, but sugary foods and drinks are rich in energy, and are best enjoyed in moderation, as an occasional treat. We could use fruits instead, even to sweeten our foods and drinks.

6. Eat regularly, control the portion size

Eating a variety of foods, regularly, and in the right amounts is the best formula for a healthy diet.

Skipping meals, especially breakfast, can lead to out-of-control hunger, often resulting in helpless overeating. Snacking between meals can help control hunger, but snacking should not replace proper meals. For snacks, we could choose yoghurt, a handful of fresh or dried fruits or vegetables (like carrot sticks), unsalted nuts, or perhaps some bread with cheese.

Paying attention to portion size will help us not to consume too much calories, and will allow us to eat all the foods we enjoy, without having to eliminate any.

  • Cooking the right amount makes it easier to not overeat.
  • Some reasonable serving sizes are: 100 g of meat; one medium piece of fruit; half a cup of raw pasta.
  • Using smaller plates helps with smaller servings.
  • Packaged foods, with calorie values on the pack, could aid portion control.
  • If eating out, we could share a portion with a friend.

7. Drink plenty of fluids

Adults need to drink at least 1.5 litres of fluid a day! Or more if it’s very hot or they are physically active. Water is the best source, of course, and we can use tap or mineral water, sparkling or non-sparkling, plain or flavoured. Fruit juices, tea, soft drinks, milk and other drinks, can all be okay – from time to time.

8. Maintain a healthy body weight

The right weight for each us depends on factors like our gender, height, age, and genes. Being affected by obesity and overweight increases the risks of a wide range of diseases, including diabetes, heart diseases, and cancer.

Excess body fat comes from eating more than we need. The extra calories can come from any caloric nutrient – protein, fat, carbohydrate, or alcohol, but fat is the most concentrated source of energy. Physical activity helps us spend the energy, and makes us feel good. The message is reasonably simple: if we are gaining weight, we need to eat less and be more active!

9. Get on the move, make it a habit!

Physical activity is important for people of all weight ranges and health conditions. It helps us burn off the extra calories, it is good for the heart and circulatory system, it maintains or increases our muscle mass, it helps us focus, and improves overall health well-being. We don’t have to be top athletes to get on the move! 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity is advised, and it can easily become part of our daily routine. We all could:

  • use the stairs instead of the elevator,
  • go for a walk during lunch breaks (and stretch in our offices in between)
  • make time for a family weekend activity

10. Start now! And keep changing gradually.

Gradual changes in our lifestyle are easier to maintain than major changes introduced all at once. For three days, we could write down the foods and drinks we consume throughout the day, and make a note of the amount of movement we made. It won’t be difficult to spot where we could improve:

  • Skipping breakfast? A small bowl of muesli, a piece of bread or fruit, could help slowly introduce it into our routine
  • Too few fruits and vegetables? To start with, we can introduce one extra piece a day.
  • Favourite foods high in fat? Eliminating them abruptly could fire back, and make us return to the old habits. We can choose low fat options instead, eat them less frequently, and in smaller portions.
  • Too little activity? Using the stairs daily could be a great first move.