Composition of a Healthy Lifestyle

Couple running on beach
Exercise with others for companionship and motivation. (Image: Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images)

A healthy lifestyle should be like a healthy diet -- well-balanced. Practicing only one or two aspects of healthy living is, of course, better than practicing none at all, but neglecting other areas can eventually lead to health problems. A healthy lifestyle should include a nutritious diet, exercise for your body and your brain, rest, a supportive social network, avoidance of risky behaviors and the practice of healthy ones.

Good Food

Woman eating salad
Good Food (Image: Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images)

You can’t be healthy if you consistently eat unhealthy food. For maximum health, vegetables, fruits and whole grains should be approximately 75 percent of your intake at each meal. Meat or a meat substitute can provide the rest, but choose lean cuts of meat such as skinless poultry and sirloin, or fish, such as salmon and tuna. Consume meatless meals comprised of beans or soy products to substitute red meat. Reduce your intake of processed foods and reduce portions for better weight control. Finally, limit sugar, salt and fried foods.

Physical and Mental Exercise

People on Treadmills
Physical and Mental Exercise (Image: Fuse/Fuse/Getty Images)

Aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise most days of the week, along with a couple strength-training workouts. Exercise can lower blood pressure and cholesterol, make bones stronger, help with weight control and relieve stress. Physical exercise even benefits the brain by increasing circulation. In addition, exercise your mind by reading, doing crosswords or learning something new. Doing something that involves both your brain and your hands, such as knitting or woodworking, can also be a great stress reliever.

Adequate Rest

Man sleeping
Adequate Rest (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Sleep is healing. If you are chronically short on sleep, your health and most areas of your life suffer. Adequate sleep helps learning and memory. Lack of it increases your risk of disease by lowering your immunity, increases hypertension and irregular heartbeat and can lead to accidents. When you’re tired, you can become irritable and impatient, affecting your personal and professional relationships. Finally, chronic lack of sleep affects metabolism and can result in weight gain.

Social Support

Smiling Couples Strolling
Social Support (Image: Tim Pannell/Fuse/Fuse/Getty Images)

Humans are social creatures. Cultivate relationships with your family and friends. If you have been transferred for work far from people you know and love, make use of technology to stay close. Through the Internet and smart phones, you can email, text and even make video calls. Don't neglect your immediate surroundings. Join a club or find places in your community where people gather. If you're new to an area, joining a church can enable you to meet people at the same time you satisfy spiritual needs.

Healthy Behaviors

Woman talking to doctor
Get an annual physical exam (Image: Comstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Risky behaviors are often associated with teens, but adults of all ages can engage in behaviors that put their health and lives at risk. Obviously risky behaviors include unprotected sex, illegal drug use and driving while under the influence, but other less frowned upon behaviors can also put your health at risk. Make it a practice to wear seat belts, get physical exams, wash your hands frequently and see the dentist regularly.

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