Introduction to Nutrition and Physical Activity

In this course, our focus is on how nutrients support health. However, enjoying good health is about so much more than simply meeting nutrient needs. As we discussed in Unit 1, the World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” For most people, being physically active contributes to all three of those elements of health: physical, mental, and social well-being.

Not surprisingly, the more you ask of your body in terms of physical activity, the more attention you’ll need to give to fueling it with nutrients. With optimal nourishment, your body will in turn reward you with improved performance and energy levels. Fueling a physically active body is based on the same principles we’ve discussed throughout this course, but requirements for energy and some nutrients are increased. In this unit, we’ll cover the elements of physical fitness, the benefits of physical activity, and recommendations for fueling an active lifestyle and athletic performance.

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Unit Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you should be able to:

  1. Identify the four essential elements of physical fitness and describe each element.
  2. Describe the key guidelines for physical activity for adults.
  3. Identify the specific physical, mental, and emotional benefits of physical activity.
  4. Explain the FITT principle and what the acronym stands for.
  5. Identify the energy systems that provide the body with fuel for physical activity.
  6. Describe how duration and intensity impact the types of fuel used for physical activity.
  7. Understand how nutrient needs differ for athletes, including energy needs, macronutrient needs and micronutrient needs
  8. Describe how hydration status impacts exercise performance
  9. Identify the purpose of sports drinks and their role in combating hyponatremia

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Nutrition: Science and Everyday Application by Alice Callahan, PhD, Heather Leonard, MEd, RDN, and Tamberly Powell, MS, RDN is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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