Brazil is famous for a number of things, but when it comes to health and exercise Brazil is most famous for its beautiful women, hunky men and sunny beaches.
So you may be in for an eye-popping experience if you visit Brazil and see ample-sized women wearing bikinis and men with beer bellies spilling over the tops of their Speedos. Yes, it sounds disgusting, and its true.
The evidence is alarming for a country known for its beautiful women and hunky men. Brazilians are getting fatter and fatter, and in a country with a fondness for cosmetic surgery and breeding supermodels it is rather embarrassing.
Its described as the “American tendency” says Gloria Valeria da Veiga, a professor who specializes in obesity studies at the Institute of Nutrition at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.
Brazil's booming economy has spawned a consumer class of people who can afford to eat fast food constantly and eat out regularly. The obesity rates in Rio, Sao Paulo and Brasilia where the working class has busy schedules means they also have less time for exercise and are buying more packaged, salty and sugary foods.
In the past the traditional Brazilian foodstuffs included manioc root, sweet potatoes, fish and fruits... But now that has been replaced by supersized portions of beef, potatoes and rice at restaurants... which means lots of carbs being eaten by a consumer class of people who don't exercise much.
33% of Brazilian children ages 5 to 9 are overweight and 14% are obese;
20% of Brazilian teenagers are overweight and 5% are obese; (This suggests teenagers are either getting more exercise than children, are eating better or both.)
50% of Brazilian adults are overweight and 15% are obese. (This suggests that once they go off to college and enter the working class of adults that they start putting on the pounds.)
Now of course these obesity rates aren't terribly high compared to some other countries. eg. Canada's obesity rate is 24% for adults and the USA is 36%. But give Brazil a decade or two and they may be waddling around like the Americans already do.
So how do we maintain a Brazilian Style "Beach Perfect Body"?
Exercise like a teenager. It is evident the teenagers are doing something right so lets go down the list of the types of activities do in terms of exercise.
#1. Bicycling. Teenagers ride bicycles (or rollerblades or skateboards) everywhere because they don't have a car yet. Want to have that beach perfect body? Start by cycling instead of taking a car.
#2. Walking quickly. Ever noticed that teenagers don't walk slowly? They're almost jogging they buzz from place to place so quickly. They're burning extra calories just by going a little bit faster.
#3. Walking instead of Driving. Again, like the bicycle teenagers will walk to where they need to go when they don't have a car.
#4. Running up stairs. When was the last time you ran up the stairs 2 or 3 at a time? That is cardio and teenagers do it for fun / because they're impatient.
#6. Swimming. Swimming is really good cardio exercise. It burns calories and swimming outdoors will also get you a nice tan in the process. If you don't know how to swim consider getting swimming lessons.
#7. Go outside more often. If you're staying inside and watching TV or on the internet constantly the chances you have an expanding waistline go up dramatically. It takes exercise to shed the pounds and the best way to exercise is to go outside.
#8. Play in Team Sports. Take up soccer, football, basketball, baseball for fun. It will get you outside and moving. If team sports aren't your thing try archery, boxing, dancing, martial arts, yoga or activities you can do alone.
#9. Teenagers are picky eaters. They basically won't eat anything that they think is disgusting, too fattening or maybe they just don't know how it was made and don't trust it. Do the same. Or you could even adopt the Traditional Brazilian Diet of manioc root, sweet potatoes, fish and fruits.
#10. Drink lots of water. Teenagers tend to drink a lot and so should you.
BONUS! Hire a personal trainer to get lots of extra advice and encouragement to exercise. If you live in Downtown Toronto and need a personal trainer you could hire me.
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