You don’t need to be a swimsuit model or a world-class athlete to know that when you look good, you feel good. The improved physique you get from regular exercise comes with a biochemical benefit that literally leaves you feeling happier. When regular exercise is coupled with a healthy diet, you can expect lower stress levels, decreased blood pressure, and improved cognitive functioning. If you’re thinking about adopting a healthier lifestyle, consider the many benefits you’ll derive from eating right and staying physically active. What’s better than achieving a trim, athletic body that makes you feel great about yourself?
A package deal
A 2013 Stanford University research project revealed that subjects who began dieting and exercising at the same time were able to increase their physical activity to more than two hours a week and got five to nine servings each day of vegetables and fruits. They also succeeded in reducing saturated fat intake by 10 percent. Those who just did one or the other (diet or exercise) only attained dietary or exercise goals and realized fewer overall health benefits than those who did both.
One important factor in making a healthy lifestyle change is to find support and encouragement from others who are working toward the same objectives. That means exercising and observing dietary modifications with a small group of friends or co-workers, or joining a large exercise group. In addition to emotional support, companions can help make sure you’re doing exercises correctly, completing a set number of laps and generally helping you stay with the program.
An exercise group provides a consistent workout schedule and engaging approaches to physical activity, which offer opportunities for greater social interaction. Fitness professionals who lead exercise groups structure workout programs so that you improve both muscular and cardiovascular fitness.
The bottom line
Exercise and healthy dietary choices can help you shed pounds, strengthen both bones and muscles, achieve a better mental outlook, lessen your risk of heart disease and some cancers, and help you live longer. One of the best things about combining exercise and healthy eating is that you won’t require quite as much high-impact physical activity if you reduce your caloric intake and stick to a well-rounded diet. Senior citizens are better able to perform daily activities and are at reduced risks for falls and broken bones. If you’ve always enjoyed playing a sport, such as tennis or basketball, chances are you’ll be able to continue playing longer if pay close attention to the foods you eat.
A holistic approach
Good nutrition can help treat multiple conditions, such as chronic pain, depression or even drug addiction. An effective strategy for coping with a chronic health problem requires a comprehensive approach involving a well-balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight. Exercise, which releases pleasure-inducing endorphins in the brain, mitigates some of the effects of depression and chronic pain. Both conditions can leave victims in a state of lethargy, with little energy for anything but sitting around. A balance of nutrition and exercise helps keep you motivated to manage a potentially debilitating physical or mental condition.
Exercising at home
If you’re rarely motivated to get to a gym, consider creating an exercise area at home. You can mark out a few square feet to do sit-ups, leg lifts and stretching exercises, or you can go a bit further and add weights or a home workout machine. A few helpful items include dumbbells or kettlebells, a yoga or pilates mat, resistance bands, and a doorframe pull-up bar.
A little progress can spur you on to greater things. Dropping a little weight or feeling a bit more energetic can give you the boost you need to make a major lifestyle improvement, look good and feel great.
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