Experts Say Active Lifestyle Key to Long-term Health

Written by: CEHD Communications Staff
Post date: April 18, 2011

A healthier lifestyle doesn't have to mean radical changes in diet and exercise. It can be as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or regularly lifting a 10-pound bag of sugar, notes comedian Kevin Hughes. But it will make all the difference in long-term quality of life.

Hughes was one of eight expert speakers to deliver short, public talks on sports medicine, fitness and heath at the inaugural Huffines Discussion, hosted by the Sydney and J.L. Huffines Institute for Sports Medicine & Human Performance at Texas A&M University. Other speakers included Ty Warren, defensive lineman for the New England Patriots; Jon Wertheim, "Sports Illustrated" senior writer; and Richard Linnehan of NASA.

Frank Booth, professor at the University of Missouri, stressed the need for more physical activity to prevent disease, particularly type 2 diabetes. He pointed to a study that showed when people at risk for type 2 diabetes walk briskly at least 22 minutes a day and eat less fat and calories, their body weight drops by 7 percent. More significantly, 58 percent delayed or avoided the development of type 2 diabetes.

"I'm not saying to climb a mountain or run a marathon — just be more physically active," Booth says. "The type 2 diabetes epidemic did not need to happen, and it doesn't need to continue or get worse."

Molly Bray, professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, discussed how the timing of meals plays a role in weight gain.

"People who don’t eat breakfast are at risk for more weight gain," she says.  

Bray notes the body’s capacity to burn calories is most effective in the morning hours and decreases over the course of the day, suggesting that meals should be progressively lighter.

The Huffines Discussion is part of ongoing efforts in the College of Education and Human Development to inform and promote public health and wellness through research and service, particularly in the areas of aging, nutrition, obesity prevention and fitness.