family running


In order to help you and your family kickstart the new year with a fitness goal, we spoke with Clinical Dietitian-Nutritionist, Elena Aletraris. In this Q&A, Ms Aletraris advises on the benefits of physical activity for the whole family, how long to exercise for and what we should eat before and after exercise.

Q: What are the main benefits of physical activity?

A: Exercise has numerous benefits regardless of your gender, age and physical ability. It helps with:

  1. Body Weight Control – during exercise you burn calories and increase your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDDE), leading to a negative energy balance, which helps prevent excess weight gain.
  1. Mood improvement - during exercise a hormone called serotonin is produced, which is linked with happy mood and more relaxed feelings. So, exercise does not only have positive physical effects, but can also improve your mental status. 
  1. Prevention or management of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, mellitus, anxiety, depression, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, hyperlipidemia.
  1. Increasing your muscle mass – when you increase your muscle mass, you improve your metabolic rate and that helps your body burn more calories.
  1. Sleep promotion - exercise helps you fall asleep more easily and have better quality of sleep.
  1. Socialising – if you exercise in a group, it gives you a chance to spend more time with family, friends, or meet new people.

Q: How long should we exercise for?

A: The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends the following:


Amount of Exercise

Children 1-4 years old

At least 180 minutes of exercise per day

Children and adolescents 5-17 years old

60 minutes per day

Adults 18-64 years old

At least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per week


75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week

Adults >65 years old

Same as for other adults


family eating healthily

Q: Does it matter what we eat before and after exercise?

A: To gain the most out of exercise what you consume before and after each exercise session is important. I recommend the following to my clients:

Before exercise - 30 minutes before – to have one of the following:

    • 1 cereal bar
    • 1 seasonal fruit
    • 2 diet crackers 
    • 1 cup of fresh juice
    • 1 diet cracker + 1tsp marmalade or honey

After exercise - 30 minutes to 1 hour maximum – to have one of these meals:

    • Slices of bread with eggs and vegetables
    • Yogurt with fruits and nuts
    • Pita bread with peanut butter
    • 1 cup of skimmed milk with 1tsp cacao powder or chocolate powder
    • Fruits with cheese
    • Chicken or fish with rice or potato/sweet potato and vegetables

Elena Aletraris is a Clinical Dietitian-Nutritionist in Nicosia, Cyprus and offers online nutritional advice. You can follow her on Instagram @elenaaletraris.dietitian


January 19, 2022