Active and Healthy Life

Health involves achieving the highest level of physical, mental and social well-being and the ability to operate within the social environment in which we live.

The determinants of health are basically human biology conditioned by genetic subjected to multiple factors throughout the life cycle and the physical, chemical, psychosocial and cultural environment. Within the environment, one of the important aspects is lifestyle, evidenced through our nutritional behavior and physical activity.

In 1986, the World Health Organization (WHO) defined lifestyle as "a general way of life based on the interaction between living conditions in a broad sense and individual behavior patterns determined by socio-cultural factors and personal characteristics". Our lifestyle has an impact on both physical and mental health. We are approaching the deadline established by the United Nations to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. It is time to ponder and analyze how and where we are and how we could be better. To do so, we must focus on improving our lifestyle.

A healthy lifestyle includes daily exercise, healthy food intake and adequate hydration, enjoying free time, socialization activities, maintaining high self-esteem, improving self-efficacy, etc. Means caring for health and well-being and make small changes to achieve a healthy life.

Active and healthy life is about making adequate and informed decisions that will promote health and wellness through basic information on nutrition, physical activity, hydration, and getting an adequate energy balance.

While most people know that physical activity can help weight control and energy balance, innovations in science and technology have created barriers to movement. Physical inactivity is considered today as an epidemic, and it is the fourth risk factor for developing chronic no communicable diseases. An estimated 5.3 million deaths a year are directly attributable to physical inactivity (comparable figure to the deaths attributed to smoking).

Conversely, the benefits of exercise go far beyond, and according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), few related lifestyle choices have a big impact on health and well-being as performing physical activity regularly. Research shows that physical activity not only reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes (and improve control of these diseases), but improve sleeping and stress managing, also help. The usual practice of moderate physical activity can improve the health and well-being, regardless of age, ethnicity, physical condition, or size.

As for nutrition, through proper nutrition, nutrients and energy are obtained to meet the specific needs for different life stages, promoting adequate growth and development in children and adolescents and in adults enabling a healthy live and wellness and to prevent the development of diseases. In addition, through food, people socialize and obtain pleasure. 

Regarding hydration, water is one of the major constituents of the body and it is involved in a multitude of essential functions. In recent years, awareness has been raised on the importance of hydration for optimal health and well-being; in fact, hydration has been linked not only with the ability to perform physical activity, but also with the cognitive ability of people.

Development is a continuous process, through it, our needs, skills, abilities and development of social network are met. To achieve a full development in the next millennium, access to physical activity, adequate nutrition, health, well-being at every stage of life will be the key. This means having a healthy lifestyle. However, one of the most important challenges to ensure a healthy life, are the great cultural, social, economic and gender differences that exist.

During the meeting, we will have an opportunity to discuss in depth the scientific evidence related to factors associated with an active and healthy life, considering that this can be achieved as part of daily activities, through a set of patterns related behaviors among others, with:

  • Performance of regular physical activity
  • Adequate nutrition/hydration status
  • Emotional wellbeing status

 

Thus, the objective of the Fourth Latin American Scientific Series is to present an overview of the components of an active and healthy life, the current barriers to achieve it, and at the same time, to provide practical tools for addressing our society health related problems. “Health” is defines by the WHO as a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease.