Nutrition & Physical Activity

The best way to maintain a healthy body weight is to eat right and stay active. A government agencey called the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) has created a tool called "MyPlate" to help people select a healthy, well-balanced diet and appropriate physical activity.

According to the USDA "MyPlate illustrates the five food groups that are the building blocks for a healthy diet using a familiar image—a place setting for a meal."

Smart Food Choices

Healthier foods are low in calories, low in saturated and trans fats (to improve your cholesterol levels), and high in fiber (undigestable carbohydrates found in plants). Our bodies cannot digest fiber or use it for energy. That means that you can eat a lot of fiber and feel full without having to store any of its calories. Fiber also aids digestion by keeping stool soft so it can travel easily through the intestine. It can even help fight cancer, particularly colon cancer.

The U.S. Surgeon General and many professional health organizations recommend a diet containing 20-35 grams of fiber a day. The average American diet barely consumes half of this amount, with daily intake of 10-15 grams.

whole grain bread

Physical Activity

Physical activity is any movement produced by muscular contractions that burns calories. Examples of physical activity include pushing a stroller, vacuuming, and mowing the lawn. Physical activity is intense enough to make you break a sweat, but comfortable enough to let you carry on a conversation.

How Much Activity Do I Need?

Adults are expected to participate in at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day on most days of the week. Children and teens should get even more, at least 60 minutes per day. You can do all of the recommended 30 minutes at once, or break it up into 10- or 15-minute periods throughout the day.

Walking briskly (3-4 mph) for even 15 to 20 minutes a day begins to lower your chances of having a heart attack or stroke, or developing type 2 diabetes.


APA format:

Genetic Science Learning Center. (2013, September 1) Nutrition & Physical Activity. Retrieved February 28, 2024, from

CSE format:

Nutrition & Physical Activity [Internet]. Salt Lake City (UT): Genetic Science Learning Center; 2013 [cited 2024 Feb 28] Available from

Chicago format:

Genetic Science Learning Center. "Nutrition & Physical Activity." Learn.Genetics. September 1, 2013. Accessed February 28, 2024.