Assess Yourself for Optimal Health

Published:  03/20/2016

Does your exercise program and diet contain the components for optimal health? Take this quiz then see the answers and explanations below to see how well you did.

If you don't know some of the answers, your doctor or Maria can help you find out. Any positive progress on these proven measures will lead to better health outcomes. The payoff is that with even modest improvements in health, the benefit of a longer, healthier life free of disease is real.

For personal specific action steps to improve these measures contact Maria Faires, RD

Are you getting the recommended amount and type of exercise for optimal health benefits?

How many minutes of moderate or vigorous intensity aerobic exercise do you get per week?           _______


How many muscle-strengthening activities do you do that involve all major muscle groups?         _______


How many of these components of a healthy diet consistent with current American Heart Association guidelines do you have? For the most accurate results, log all food and beverage intake in an online food journal like My Fitness Pal and then answer the questions.

Do you eat 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables daily? No Yes Don't know
Do you eat at least two 3.5-ounce servings of fish per week? No     Yes     Don't know
Do you eat at least three 1-ounce servings of fiber-rich whole grains daily? No Yes Don't know
Do you eat less than 1,500 mg of sodium daily? No Yes Don't know
Do you drink no more than 450 calories (36 oz) a week of sugar-sweetened   beverages? No Yes Don't know
Do you eat at least 4 servings of nuts, legumes and seeds per week? No Yes Don't know
Do you eat less than 7% of your total calorie intake from saturated fat? No Yes Don't know
Do you eat no more than 2 servings of processed meats a week? No Yes Don't know

Do you have ideal cardiovascular health?

The American Heart Association estimates that only 5% of Americans meet criteria for ideal cardiovascular health. Ideal cardiovascular health for adults is defined by the presence of these seven health measures. Take this quiz and see how many you have.

BMI <25 kg/m2 No       Yes      
Never smoked or quit No Yes  
Physical activity for at least 150 minutes per week moderate or 75 minutes per week vigorous No Yes  
Total cholesterol <200 mg/dL or<170 children and adolescents No Yes  
Blood pressure <120/80 mm Hg; or 90th percentile for children and adolescents No Yes  
Fasting blood glucose <100 mg/dL. No Yes  
Healthy Diet score: Four to five of the key components of a healthy diet consistent with current American Heart Association guideline recommendations above No Yes  


Q: How many minutes of moderate or vigorous intensity aerobic exercise do you get per week?

A: For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous intensity aerobic activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and preferably, it should be spread throughout the week.

For additional and more extensive health benefits, adults should increase their aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate intensity, or 150 minutes a week of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity. Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond this amount.

Moderate Intensity Exercise

A moderate level of activity noticeably increases your heart rate and breathing rate. You may sweat, but you are still able to carry on a conversation. You can talk, but you can't sing.

Kinds of Moderate Intensity Exercise:

Ballroom and line dancing

Biking on level ground or with few hills


General gardening (raking, trimming shrubs)

Sports where you catch and throw (baseball, softball, volleyball)

Tennis (doubles)

Using hand cyclers also called ergometers

Walking briskly -- walking at more than 100 steps per minute on level terrain

Water aerobics

Easy jogging

Slow swimming

Vigorous Intensity Exercise

A vigorous level of activity noticeably increases your heart rate and breathing rate. You sweat. You can only say a few words without stopping to catch your breath.

Kinds of Vigorous Intensity Exercise:

Aerobic dance


Fast dancing

Jumping rope

Martial arts (such as karate)

Race walking, jogging, or running

Riding a bike on hills or riding faster


Swimming fast or swimming laps

Tennis (singles)

Biking faster than 10 miles per hour

Heavy gardening (digging, hoeing)

Hiking uphill

Sports with a lot of running (basketball, hockey, soccer)

Tennis (singles)

Q: How many muscle-strengthening activities do you do that involve all major muscle groups?

A: Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities that are moderate or high intensity and involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits.

Q: How many cups of fruits and vegetables do you eat daily?

A: Most people should aim at least 4½ cups of vegetables and fruits a day. Sorry; potatoes don't count. Eat for a variety of kinds and colors of produce, to give your body the mix of nutrients it needs. Best ones?  Dark leafy greens, tomatoes, and anything rich yellow, orange, or red color. Men should eat tomatoes at least once per week.

There are many health benefits from eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits: Lower blood pressure; reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and probably some cancers; lower risk of eye and digestive problems; and the fiber helps keep appetite in check.

Q: How many ounces of fish do you eat per week?

A: At least two 3.5 ounces servings a week. Fish is high in protein, vitamins, minerals, and some fish is rich in omega 3 fatty acids. Eating fish regularly lessens your chance of getting heart disease, and might help other medical conditions too. Fish that contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids include mackerel, Atlantic salmon (canned salmon too), canned tuna, herrings and sardines.

Q: How many 1-ounce servings of fiber-rich whole grains do you eat daily?

A: Three for women and five for men1-ounce equivalent servings a day. Eating grains, especially whole grains, provides health benefits. People who eat whole grains as part of a healthy diet have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. Grains provide many nutrients that are vital for the health and maintenance of our bodies.

Consuming foods rich in fiber, such as whole grains, as part of a healthy diet, reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, may reduce constipation. may help with weight management by providing a full feeling,  eating grains fortified with folate before and during pregnancy helps prevent neural tube defects during fetal development.

Q: Any idea of how many grams of sodium you eat daily?

A: Less than 1500 milligrams a day.  People consuming diets of 1,500 mg of sodium have blood pressure lowering benefits as well as other cardiovascular benefits.

Persistent high blood pressure can lead to serious problems such as:
  • Arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis
  • Aneurysm
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Enlarged left heart
  • Heart failure
  • Transient ischemic attack (TIA)
  • Stroke
  • Dementia
  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • Kidney failure, Kidney scarring, Kidney artery aneurysm

Q: How many calories of sugar-sweetened beverages do you consume per week?

A: No more than 450 calories-worth a week. High consumption of beverages with added sugars has been associated with consumption of greater calories and weight gain. People tend not to compensate as well for calories consumed in liquid form when compared to calories consumed as solid foods. Because calories consumed as beverages may not be as satiating, we tend to over consume beverages.

Q: How many servings of nuts, legumes and seeds do you eat per week?

A: At least 4 servings a week. Meat and dairy are filled with saturated fats. Vegetarianism may not be right for everyone, but increasing non-animal based products in the diet does have its benefits. For those wanting to make a few healthy changes, legumes, nuts and seeds will be good choices in place of the meat and diary that is the usual source of most peoples' protein.

Q: What percentage of your total calorie intake is from saturated fat?

A: Less than 7% of total calorie intake. Reducing saturated fat is the foundation of a heart healthy diet. A diet high in saturated fat is known to raise blood cholesterol and your risk of developing heart disease.

Animal foods are generally high in saturated fats.  Meat, milk, eggs, cheese, and butter. Plant foods are generally low in total fat, making them low in saturated fat. Some plant foods, like nuts, seeds, avocado and coconut, are higher in total fat. Although these plant foods have some saturated fat, they are higher in the healthier, unsaturated fat.

Diet Goal for Saturated Fat per Day

  • If you need 1,600 calories per day, that means 13 grams of saturated fat or less per day
  • If you need 2,000 calories per day, that means 15 grams of saturated fat or less per day
  • If you need 2,500 calories per day, that means 20 grams of saturated fat or less per day

Here is the saturated fat content of some common foods:

  • McDonald's Quarter Pounder Hamburger -  14 grams
  • Cheese (such as cheddar or American), 1 ounce - 4-6 grams
  • Butter, 1 tablespoon - 7 grams
  • 1 large egg - 2 grams
  • Ribeye Steak, 6 oz - 4 grams
  • Coconut Milk, 1 tablespoon - 3 grams
  • Olive Oil, 1 tablespoon - 2 grams

Q: How many servings of processed meats do you eat a week?

A: No more than 2 servings a week. Eating processed red meat -- such as hot dogs, bacon, sausage, and cold cuts -- is linked to increased risks of heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

And processed meats contained, on average, about four times more sodium and 50% more nitrate preservatives than unprocessed meats.

Categories:   Fitness  Food  Health Conditions 

Tags:   #healthylifestyle

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