Following a consistent exercise routine and a balanced, varied diet are the two best things you can do to improve and maintain your health. If you’re trying to lose weight or cut your risk of disease, these two habits in combination are far more effective than any crash diet or nutritional supplement. There are a number of reasons why physicians have lauded their benefits for so many years.
The Good News
Regular exercise lowers blood pressure and cuts the risk of many severe diseases, including osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. It can also alleviate symptoms of existing health problems and boost mental and physical health overall. Some exercises, particularly aerobic routines, increase daily energy levels, and weight training can help improve posture and metabolism and build strength.
Good Health Guidelines
The U.S. government and research facilities have released public guidelines that can help people make daily choices to improve health and fitness. For a healthy diet, the Harvard School of Public Health’s Food Guide Pyramid suggests minimizing fat and sugar intake and balancing daily servings of grains with vegetables, fruits, dairy products and lean proteins. Further breakdowns concern the type of foods to eat from each group. For instance, dedicate the majority of your daily calories to carbohydrates -- complex, whole grains, beans or fruit. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of daily physical activity for all healthy adults and children. That activity can take the form of something as simple as walking or yard work or something as complex as triathlon training or an interval workout.
Incorporating a healthy diet and exercise into daily routine encourages consistency and is crucial to a healthy lifestyle. One way to establish routine with the diet is to keep a food log. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services encourages people to keep a diary of what they eat, when they eat and how they feel at the time. With exercise, repeating familiar workouts or always exercising with the same partner can help build consistency and improve results and performance.
Variety and Flexibility
As important as routine is for fitness results, flexibility is also key. Your body will enjoy more health benefits and get a better overall workout if you give all of your muscles a chance to work rather than focusing on the same group each time you exercise. Try new fitness routines and new exercises regularly. With a healthy diet, try new foods often. Experiment with cooking new healthy recipes and eating interesting snacks every so often to break up your normal food routine and introduce new nutrients to your body.
Make Changes Gradually
If you already lead a relatively healthy lifestyle, continue to follow it and strive for consistency. If you’re looking to improve, make gradual changes. Try adjusting one part of your diet each week or walking for just 15 minutes a day to start. Over time, your health will improve with a balanced diet and good physical activity.