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How Can Exercise and Healthy Diet Make You Live Longer?

author image Van Thompson
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.
How Can Exercise and Healthy Diet Make You Live Longer?
A healthy lifestyle can protect you against a variety of diseases. Photo Credit: Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images

There's no surefire guarantee that any single choice you make will help you to live longer. Genetic risk factors, accidents and environmental toxins can all shorten your life. A healthy diet and regular exercise, however, are two of the most effective steps you can take to increase your odds of a prolonged life.

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Better Cardiovascular Health

Good cardiovascular health can help reduce your risk of heart attacks, strokes, blood clots, congestive heart failure and other heart ailments. Exercise helps improve your heart health by improving circulation, lowering your blood pressure and regularly exercising your cardiac muscles. Coupled with a health diet, the benefits are even stronger. By eliminating high-fat foods, you can reduce your risk of atherosclerosis, high cholesterol and other ailments that contribute to poor heart health.

Fighting Cancer

Cancer is a leading cause of death in the United States, but the right diet and exercise combination can reduce your risk. Exercise is particularly helpful at combating breast and colon cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Moreover, a diet rich in dark, leafy greens can help lower your cancer risk.

Avoiding and Reducing Obesity

Eating healthy, low-calorie foods can help you trim your waistline and reduce your risk of obesity. When paired with regular exercise, though, you're even less likely to become obese. Obesity is associated with a variety of health problems, ranging from joint pain to more serious conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. By controlling your weight with diet and exercise, you reduce your risk.

Preventing Chronic Illnesses

The CDC reports that regular exercise can help reduce the risk of chronic and potentially life-threatening conditions such as diabetes. It also reduces your risk of joint pain, osteoporosis and arthritis. Although these conditions are not life-threatening, they can undermine your ability to move, decreasing your ability to exercise and potentially lowering your life expectancy.

Improving Mental Health

According to the CDC, regular physical activity can reduce the risk of mental illnesses and help reduce symptoms in people who already have these ailments. In addition to the risk of suicide that comes with many mental illnesses, The Dartmouth Institute reports that serious mental illnesses decrease longevity by 25 to 30 years. Three percent of Americans have these life-threatening illnesses, and regular exercise may help improve both prognosis and longevity.

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