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Pia Cayetano: ‘Health is not merely a goal, it is a lifestyle’

Mom, triathlete, entrepreneur, public servant, and a champion for active lifestyle, Senator Pia Cayetano does not let anything get in the way of maintaining a fit and active lifestyle. Juggling work and family, Pia balances her time well through time management and multi-tasking. She shares, “Maintaining a good physical condition is paramount for you to be able to pursue all your goals. The earlier you start incorporating this into your day-to-day activities, the sooner you will realize that health is not merely a goal; it is a lifestyle.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), children and youth aged 5-17 need 60 minutes of exercise daily to improve cardiorespiratory and muscle and bone health, among others. “I believe a healthy body is a healthy mind. I perform better in other aspects of my life when I have exercised. I would like to encourage everyone to do the same.” Pia also stressed that a sedentary life causes several physical ailments and illnesses as well as weight gain.

The Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST) reports that 4 out of 100 Filipino children are overweight. Another study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information says that Filipino children are not physically active during the school day, except during their physical education classes.

Pia has embraced a healthy lifestyle since she was young. Her father, the late Senator Rene Cayetano, was a fitness enthusiast himself. Passing on this legacy, she makes exercise a bonding activity for her children. “My two teenage girls play football. My older daughter Max and I run together when we can. My 3-year-old son loves to run too!”

Being a senator entails long hours and many late nights, but Pia keeps fit by making time for exercise and a healthy diet. “I developed the habit of eating right and exercising regularly to stay physically and mentally tough in order to face challenges.”

Aware of the importance of having access to healthy food, she brings her own baon to work and even on the plane, and always keeps a stash of snacks like nuts and fruits in her car. Though she sticks to healthy meals (usually about 4-5 times a day) and snacks on a daily basis, Pia also admits that she allows herself to indulge once in a while instead of totally banning certain food. “I believe in eating a variety of healthy food, mostly vegetables, some fruits, protein from fish, chicken, egg, tofu, and milk products. I try to eat only healthy carbohydrates like brown rice, whole wheat bread, sweet potato, and the like.”

Despite her very busy schedule, she is always ready and makes time for a workout, even bringing running shoes and sometimes her bike when traveling. “I cannot let a day end without working out, be it running, cycling, swimming, boxing and recently, crossfit training. I squeeze in even just 30 minutes of exercise each day when I am busy.”

And when she comes home late, she gets on her stationary bike, does yoga and core exercises with a mat and dumbbells. Aside from alternating swimming, biking and running, she constantly tries different things. In fact, she completed her first sky run in Mt. Ugo in Benguet.

As part of her advocacy, Pia celebrates women’s month by promoting women-focused fitness activities. Pia bikes around the country through her event called “Bike for Hope,” which raises awareness on different causes. Last October, she held her annual Gabriel Symphony event, a 12-hour multi-sport event in memory of her late son Gabriel. As one of the champions of Pilipinas Go4Health, the healthy lifestyle movement of the Department of Health (DOH), Pia also actively does her part in  promoting the four healthy habits, Go Smoke-free, Go Sustansya, Go Sigla, and Go Slow sa Tagay.

“Don’t be misled that a healthy lifestyle needs to be high maintenance,” she said. “The pillars of a healthy lifestyle – proper nutrition, physical activity, and avoiding vices like smoking and drinking – are easy to live by once you make a steadfast personal commitment to take care of yourself.”

“You will never be as healthy as you are now. All the things you can do with your body will be affected by what you do to your body, especially at this age. Take advantage of your youth and make a healthy lifestyle your choice now.”

For more information about Pilipinas Go4Health, visit go4health.ph.

About the Department of Health
The Department of Health (DOH) is the country’s overall technical authority on health—both national health policymaker and regulatory institution. DOH plays three major roles in the health sector, namely: leader in health, enabler and capacity builder, and specific services administrator.

As the governing body for health and wellness, it is mandated to develop national plans, technical standards, and health guidelines, as well as to provide special tertiary health care services and technical assistance to health providers and stakeholders. For more information about DOH, please visit www.doh.gov.ph.

About Pilipinas Go4Health
is the nationwide healthy lifestyle movement spearheaded by the Department of Health (DOH) and its partners. It aims to inform and encourage Filipinos from all walks of life to practice a healthy lifestyle by making a personal commitment to physical activity, proper nutrition, and the prevention or cessation of smoking and alcohol consumption. Through the movement, DOH and its partners work together to promote and establish a sustainable environment for healthy living. Visit www.go4health.ph for more information.