Exercise & Eating Healthy

Exercise & Eating Healthy

Regular exercise and the consumption of a healthy diet can lead to a host of benefits, including increased energy, happiness, health and even a long life. Exercise and diet are pivotal to determining a person’s overall health, and making them both part of your lifestyle can make a dramatic difference in how you look and feel.

Benefits of exercise

So what are the benefits of regular exercise? Not only can it give you more energy, but it can also improve your mood, help you sleep better and live longer (just to name a few).

Helps fight depression

Research shows that for mild or moderate cases of depression, exercise can be an effective treatment.

Exercising increases your brain’s sensitivity to serotonin and norepinephrine, which ease feelings of depression.

But don’t think you need to start training for a marathon to gain the benefits.

One study showed that just six weeks of yoga (in addition to standard treatment) was enough to reduce depression and even anxiety. Yoga and Pilates also focus on breathing exercises, which can reduce stress and promote relaxation.

Helps maintain strong muscles and bones

As we get older, we lose muscle mass and function. But exercising regularly may reduce muscle loss and maintain strength. As we exercise, our bodies release hormones that help muscles absorb amino acids and boost muscle growth.

And according to a study, exercising while we’re young helps build bone density, which can help prevent osteoporosis as we age.

Reduces risk of chronic disease

Exercising regularly can help ward off chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It can also help if you have high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Just think about how a lack of exercise can impact your health. It can cause significant belly fat (which we know is tough to lose) and has been linked to high cholesterol, inflammation, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Reduces pain

If you have chronic low back pain, fibromyalgia or other conditions that cause chronic pain, exercising has been shown to help reduce pain.

Research shows that exercise can reduce the severity of pain, as well as improve physical function.

Boosts your brain health

Exercise is beneficial for maintaining brain health for everyone, but even more for those who are at risk for developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Movement promotes cardiovascular health, improves blood flow to the brain and reduces inflammation. It also stimulates the production of hormones that enhance the growth of brain cells.

A study suggests that in older adults, exercise can also impact the hippocampus. This part of the brain is important for memory and learning. Exercising can help it grow, which may improve mental function.

Makes you feel happier

Who doesn’t love the rush of endorphins after a brisk walk or spin class?

Endorphins are hormones that reduce pain and boost pleasure, creating a general feeling of well-being and positivity. So before you roll your eyes at your enthusiastic fitness instructor, consider how a steady state of endorphins does the body good.

Endorphins also act as a natural painkiller and can help ease long-term aches. Regular exercise can strengthen muscles, lessening chronic pain and your risk of injury.

Gives you more energy

Physical activity increases your heart rate and gets your blood flowing. More oxygen and nutrients to your muscles mean higher energy levels. And although it seems odd that expending energy can actually give you more energy, science backs this claim up.

One study found that 90% of people who completed a regular exercise program reported improved fatigue compared to those who did not exercise. Next time you’re considering an extra cup of coffee to perk you up, try a walk instead.

Promotes quality sleep

Exercise can reduce stress and anxiety levels, leaving you feeling more relaxed and stabilized, which is a perfect zone for sleep.

And while working out can also raise your body temperature and make you feel more alert throughout the day, it can also help you drift off better when your internal temperature starts to dip back down.

If you exercise outside, exposure to vitamin D can also regulate your wake-sleep cycle. Just tread carefully with when you work out and how close it is to bedtime.

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Helps maintain weight

If you’re at your ideal weight, exercising can help in a variety of ways. In addition to using excess calories that would be stored as fat, working out helps maintain muscle mass and repair muscles.

It also reduces stress and can help you sleep — all of which lead to good choices when it comes to eating.

Helps you live longer

Healthcare providers recommend regular exercise to improve or prevent conditions like diabetes, heart disease, some forms of cancer and obesity.

But it also keeps your bones, muscles and joints healthy, lowers your cholesterol and blood pressure, and protects your mental health. All of these amazing benefits can add up to one thing — living longer (plus feeling good).

Importance of Being Healthy

Eating healthy foods and exercising regularly are challenges for almost everyone. It’s tough to find the time and motivation to devote to a healthy diet and workout routine, and to balance those factors with other activities. However, the mental and physical benefits of following a healthy lifestyle are significant, and the bottom line is that consistently healthy choices lead to a longer life.

Healthy Diet

The importance of diet can’t be overstated for a healthy lifestyle. People get the vitamins, minerals and nutrients they need to function and thrive from the foods they eat, so choosing foods that offer the most of those components helps improve quality of life. According to the Food Standards Agency, a healthy diet for most people consists of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain foods, lean proteins and some low fat or nonfat dairy products. It’s just as important to limit foods that are high in fat, sugar, sodium and cholesterol as it is to choose healthy foods.

Physical Benefits

People who exercise regularly have lower occurrences of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes and cancer. They also have higher energy levels and sleep better. The Cleveland Clinic suggests that a healthy, nutrient- and antioxidant-rich diet also guards against cancer and helps improve the immune system’s functions. Finally, the CDC notes that people of all ages, ethnicities, sizes and shapes have the power to extend the length of their lives by regularly engaging in physical activity.

Mental Benefits

Eating well and getting proper exercise offer mental benefits as well as better physical health. HelpGuide.org notes that healthy, mindful eating practices can help reduce stress in adults’ lives, as can mild physical activities, such as walking, yoga and tai chi. Exercise stimulates brain chemicals that make people happy. Also, the CDC points out that a healthy lifestyle helps sharpen thinking, learning and judgment skills, and reduces the risk of depression.

Process

No matter how old a person is or what kind of diet and exercise pattern he or she follows, it’s possible for that person to make adjustments and improve health. A person who is not very active can start by making small changes, such as replacing soft drinks with water and adding a 10-minute walk to a daily routine. Choose changes that are exciting and attainable for the best, most consistent results over time.

Exercise

There are just as many, if not more, benefits to exercising regularly than there are to following a healthy diet. At its most basic level, exercise burns calories. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that exercise and diet play dual roles in maintaining healthy weight and aiding weight loss. The muscles in people’s bodies work best when they are used regularly, built up and strengthened through activity. In addition, people’s hearts grow stronger and healthier when they engage in cardiovascular exercise that raises heart rates for an extended time.

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