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Why thin and trim might not equal healthy

Get the skinny on what habits need to be part of the equation

A lot of us may buy into it — the idea that being slender equals being healthy and in good shape. But that might be a risky assumption.

There’s more to it than that. For example, it’s essential to eat right and get regular exercise — no matter your body weight. In fact, research shows that inactive people at normal weights may have higher rates of disease and early death than those who are obese and active.  

This doesn’t mean weight isn’t important. But think big picture — with physical activity and smart eating in your sights too.

Beyond the scale: 4 tips to get regular exercise

Here’s what experts advise: Most adults should aim for at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week. Add strength exercises on two or more days a week.*

That may seem like a lot if you aren’t getting regular exercise now. But don’t let that discourage you. These steps can help inspire you — and make being active more doable:

  1. Fit your fitness to you. Think about your personality. For example, if you’re competitive, how about a team sport? Love the outdoors? Walks in the park or hikes in the hills may motivate you.
  2. Try something new. Explore your options — you may find something that keeps you coming back for more. Maybe that will be rock climbing, belly dancing, yoga or karate.
  3. Divide and conquer. No time for a 30-minute workout? Squeeze in three 10-minute mini workouts instead. This is a good way to gradually build up your stamina and strength too.
  4. Pair up. With a good buddy at your side, you’ll be less likely to bail on exercise.

Beyond the scale: 4 tips to eat smarter

Focus on foods that give you the most nutritional payoff. Here are a few tasty suggestions:

  1. Fill at least half your plate with produce. Go for color and variety, from juicy berries to sweet potatoes to leafy greens.
  2. Make at least half your grains whole. Order sandwiches with whole-wheat bread. Switch to brown or wild rice and whole-grain pastas. Fill your cereal bowl with whole grains too.
  3. Keep proteins lean. Good choices include skinless poultry, seafood, lean meats, beans and low-fat dairy foods.
  4. Be fussy about fats. Replace solid fats with healthy options, such as olive, canola and peanut oils.

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