Healthy Living: The Importance of Diet and Exercise
posted by Family Medicine | January 3, 2017
Staying healthy is at the top of nearly everyone’s priority list, and our daily choices can determine just how healthy we are. Not everything is in our control, but the habits and approaches we take to our health can often make a difference between being healthy and unhealthy.
Two areas we have the most control over are our diet and exercise. These can both have huge effects on overall health, and can be some of the main factors in preventing disease and other complications later in life. Preventive healthcare measures like proper diet and exercise can also help your budget.
What are some of the key benefits associated with a good diet and proper exercise? Let’s look at that, but first, let’s start off with some general diet and exercise recommendations.
Exercise: In general, you should be aiming for at least two-and-a-half hours of medium-intensity exercise per week, or a slightly lower amount of high-intensity exercise. Mixing aerobics in with things like weight training or sports is a great way to vary your workouts. Make sure to stretch before and after exercising, and take appropriate safety precautions.
Diet: Dietary needs differ for every person, but in general, some of the best foods you should regularly eat include:
Try to balance items like dairy and oils, along with meats and poultry. Try to avoid sweets, overly salty foods, trans fat-heavy foods and overuse of alcohol. Pay attention to calorie count—your needed amount will vary based on your size, age and gender.
The largest benefit of a great diet and regular exercise is the way it helps your body stave off diseases and other conditions. Your body’s immune system is a complex machine, and diet and exercise can heavily affect it. Too many of the wrong foods can put you at risk, but the right foods complemented by appropriate exercise can actually boost your body’s ability to fight disease.
Some of the diseases that a good diet and regular exercise can prevent include:
Both diet and exercise, especially the latter, can have major effects on your mood. Chemicals in the brain called “endorphins” make you feel happy and positive, and these are triggered by most forms of exercise.
Diet can have many of the same effects, and there are indicators out there suggesting that proper diet and exercise are two major factors in overall mental health. Both help reduce stress and can increase brain activity. Endorphin stimulation can also help prevent depression and raise self-esteem.
Weight is one of the key factors involved in heart disease, high cholesterol or blood pressure and several other conditions. What are the top two factors that influence weight? You got it, diet and exercise.
Sleep issues are a concern for millions of people around the globe, and diet and exercise can influence your sleep habits. Exercise, in particular, can directly impact your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. It’s recommended that you don’t exercise heavily or eat right before bedtime, but proper habits in both areas can turn restless nights into comfortable ones.
If you are trying to improve your exercise and dietary habits, consult with your primary care provider. He or she will be able to get you on a plan that’s right for you.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.