A healthy lifestyle leaves you fit, energetic and at reduced risk for disease, based on the choices you make about your daily habits. Good nutrition, daily exercise and adequate sleep are the foundations for continuing good health. Managing stress in positive ways, instead of through smoking or drinking alcohol, reduces wear and tear on your body at the hormonal level. For a longer and more comfortable life, put together your plan for a healthy lifestyle and live up to it.
Your cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, immune and other body systems depend on a continual supply of nutrients to feed cell growth and metabolism. To get the dozens of essential forms of protein, vitamins, carbohydrates, minerals and fats, you need to eat a varied diet. According to the guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, your diet should contain mostly whole grains, fruits, vegetables and fat-free or low-fat dairy products. Consume lean meats such as chicken and turkey, along with legumes, eggs and healthy nuts. Limit your portion sizes at meals to control your weight and your risk for cardiovascular and other diseases through your lifestyle.
Calories accompany the nutrition in foods, and if you don’t expend them all, you’ll gain weight. Carrying extra weight increases your risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Your lifestyle should support a constant healthy weight, so remain active daily. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services outlined the Physical Fitness Guidelines for Americans, and these guidelines focus on muscle strengthening exercise, such as weight lifting, along with aerobic exercise, such as walking or running. The guidelines suggest working toward completing 150 hours of exercise a week, but inactive adults should build to this gradually under the supervision of their doctor. You should also include exercise, such as yoga to improve flexibility.
Daily metabolism perpetuates the decline and rejuvenation of cellular tissue, and the body’s self-repair takes place when you are asleep. Memory consolidation and appetite regulation also occur during this time of reduced physical activity. The National Sleep Foundation considers seven to nine hours of sleep a nightly criterion for a healthy lifestyle.
Your body responds to everyday stress with a release of hormones that prepares you to react. If you don’t relieve this state through relaxation, the effects build and can create muscular pain, headaches, sleep disturbances and other symptoms. A lifestyle that includes regular stress management breaks this cycle before it can progress to unhealthy levels. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests limiting some of your activities to make time for relaxation. Achieve physical release through stretching, massage, yoga or enjoyable exercise. Connect with friends and family to relieve mental pressures, and take time out to read, pursue a hobby or experience another activity that makes you feel good.
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: Dietary Guidelines
- American Heart Association: Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations
- National Sleep Foundation: How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?
- National Sleep Foundation: How Sleep Works
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Stress and Your Health
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans