When you adopt a healthy lifestyle, you not only feel and look better, but you also experience a landslide of other healthful benefits. Living in a healthy way, however, requires that you commit to making some good choices and sticking with them. There are no magic pills when it comes to long-term health and wellness. The good news: You can start making changes today that can positively affect your overall health and wellness.
Combats Chronic Diseases
Poor lifestyle choices, including poor diet, lack of exercise and chronic stress, are key contributors to the development of preventable chronic disease. On the other hand, the effects of eating right and exercising improve the strength of your immune system and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, hypertension and several types of cancer. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise like brisk walking or riding a bicycle.
Increased Energy Level
An increased level of energy is a key beneficial effect of living a healthy lifestyle. According to University of Rochester Medical Center, if you're in a state of general good health, by increasing the "big three" -- eating nutrient-dense foods, getting adequate sleep and exercising -- you'll experience a boost in your energy level. Fill your diet with plenty of natural, nutrient-rich foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, lean meats and fish, low-fat dairy foods and unsaturated fats. Avoid processed and refined foods that cause your blood sugar to spike and then drop, leaving you feeling fatigued.
A healthy lifestyle also helps you maintain a healthy weight. This not only improves your appearance but also has a positive impact on chronic disease prevention. Controlling your weight reduces the risk of developing diabetes, gallstones, hypertension, heart disease, stroke and several types of cancer. According to University of Maryland Medical Center, people are not only eating larger amounts of food than they did 20 years ago, but they are also replacing natural and home-cooked foods with processed and fast foods. By reducing your intake of processed foods and beverages that are typically high in calories, sugar and unhealthy fat -- which undermine weight control -- you positively impact your weight and overall good health.
Enhanced Brain Health
A healthy lifestyle can increase your brain's health. According UCLA professor of neurosurgery and physiological science Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, diet, exercise and sleep can alter your brain heath and mental functions. Exercise like walking, although not strenuous, is good for your brain. It increases blood circulation and the amount of oxygen and glucose that reaches your brain, helping you to think more clearly. Exercise also boosts endorphins, which can reduce feelings of stress. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in healthful foods such as salmon and walnuts, help improve learning and memory and help fight against depression and mood disorders. Get seven or eight hours of sleep. Adequate sleep aids in the learning and memory process, the ability to concentrate and helps maintain an elevated mood.
- Harvard Medical School: Harvard Health Publications: Importance of Sleep: Six Reasons Not to Scrimp on Sleep
- Cleveland Clinic: Lifestyle Choices: Root Causes of Chronic Diseases
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Exercise
- University of Rochester Medical Center: Increase Your Energy Level Through Sleep, Nutrition, Exercise
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Weight Control and Diet
- Harvard Medical School: Harvard Health Publications: Regular Exercise Releases Brain Chemicals Key For Memory, Concentration, and Mental Sharpness from the May 2013 Harvard Men's Health Watch
- The Franklin Institute: The Human Brain: Renew - Exercise: Your Brain, Just Brighter