A healthy body not only contributes to a more active, productive and fulfilling life, but can also add years to your life. When your body has a strong immune system to combat health problems, your risk of developing eye problems, arthritis and chronic diseases like cancer, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease is reduced. By following a few guidelines, you can develop habits that contribute to the ongoing health of your body.
Eat Healthy Foods
When you eat right, you not only feel better and have more energy, but you also provide your body with vital nutrients -- protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins, minerals and fiber -- that maintain your body's health. A nutrient-rich diet includes whole grains, fish, nuts, eggs, poultry and lean meats, fat-free or low-fat dairy foods such as yogurt and fortified milk, and unsaturated fats like olive oil and avocados. Avoid processed and refined foods, which are typically loaded with saturated fats and sugar. These foods have little nutritional value and can cause your blood glucose levels to rise and then quickly drop, leaving you feeling tired.
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Like eating a healthy diet, participating in regular exercise is crucial to keeping your body healthy. Regular physical activity helps control your weight, strengthens your bones and muscles, improves your mood and overall mental health and may add extra years to your life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking, is safe for most people. Participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week. If you are experiencing health issues, check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
Get Enough Sleep
Although the amount of sleep needed varies with each individual, getting adequate, quality sleep plays a vital role not only in your daily performance, but also in keeping your body healthy throughout your life. Sleep is necessary for the healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. It aids in the balance of your body's hormones and supports your body's growth and development. Your immune system, which defends your body against infections and other harmful substances, relies on adequate sleep to remain strong and function properly. Noticing when your body needs sleep and honoring that need is important to maintaining good health. Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep a day.
Stress management in your busy, active life plays an important role in keeping your body healthy. Although stress can't be avoided, it can be controlled. When stress is repeated, excessive and left untreated, your body can develop physical health problems, such as high blood pressure, weakened immune system, and mental issues like depression and lack of concentration. Strategies like exercise, yoga, meditation or participating in stress-reduction programs are effective ways to manage your stress and help keep your body healthy.
Keeping well-hydrated is essential not only to your body's health, but to its survival. Water is an essential nutrient that makes up between 60 and 70 percent of your body. Every cell in your body needs water to function properly. Water maintains body temperature, moves nutrients and waste materials through your body, helps normalize blood pressure and lubricates and cushions body joints and organs. You must replace the water lost through body functions like perspiration and breathing every day to avoid dehydration. Keep a bottle of water handy during the day to drink from. A good rule of thumb for estimating adequate daily water intake is to drink, in ounces, half your total body weight. For example, if you weigh 140 pounds, drink 70 ounces daily.
- USDA ChooseMyPlate.gov: Food Groups
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity and Health: The Benefits of Physical Activity
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: Why Is Sleep Important?
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: How Much Sleep Is Enough?
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Stress
- Tufts University Department of Health Education: Balance Your Life: Staying Well Hydrated
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.