Diet, Exercise, and Your Health: What’s the Connection?
Published on 20 November, 2018 | Holistic Therapy
If you’re like most people, you know you should exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet, but with everything that’s on your plate, it’s tough to make self-care a priority. After all, a trip to the gym or farmers market feels like a luxury when you’re racing to keep up with your career and family. But the truth is, there are more reasons to live a healthy lifestyle than a slim figure.
Incorporating regular exercise into your diet plan further protects against chronic disease. It also strengthens bones, joints, and muscles to keep you healthy, fit.
Benefits of healthy food: The most obvious benefits of exercise and nutrition come in the form of improved physical health. Consuming a diverse diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, beans and nuts, and whole grains, while avoiding junk food and drinking plenty of water, is the best way to supply your body with all the vitamins and minerals it needs to function properly. Your diet affects not just your weight and energy levels, but also your susceptibility to serious illness. The University of Minnesota describes lifestyle diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers as resulting from a “network of biological dysfunction” in which poor nutrition plays a starring role.
Excercise: Incorporating regular exercise into your diet plan further protects against chronic disease. It also strengthens bones, joints, and muscles to keep you healthy, fit, and independent well into your senior years. It only takes 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week to enjoy its myriad benefits, including a longer lifespan.
Mental Health: Less apparent, but equally compelling, is the way dietary choices and exercise habits can affect mental health. A diet that emphasizes complex carbohydrates and lean proteins over processed foods high in sugar helps to stabilize blood sugar, which improves energy levels and mood. Good nutrition may even protect against depression, since 95 percent of the body’s serotonin is produced in the digestive system. Exercise likewise promotes good mental health. Working out releases endorphins and other mood-boosting neurotransmitters, thus reducing stress and promoting a sense of well-being.
Even with a laundry list of reasons why you should eat well and exercise, making a lifestyle change is easier said than done. That’s especially true if you’re already struggling with mental or physical health problems.
Activity: If you’re overweight or have physical limitations that make exercise difficult, start with simple exercises until you’ve developed enough mobility and endurance to move onto more intense activity without injuring yourself. Even if that means going on a 10-minute walk or making laps up and down the stairs, everyone has to start somewhere.
Home Gyms: For people with mental health challenges, the problem isn’t the physical task, but gaining the motivation to do it. Some people with depression or anxiety find it helpful to work out at a gym, because changing their environment can help shift their headspace. However, some days simply getting to the gym can be a challenge. Setting up a home gym is a good way to stick to your habits even when you’re not feeling up to leaving the house. If even a home workout seems like too much, commit to a short 10-minute walk. Most of the time, you’ll feel so much better after a few minutes of activity that you’ll want to keep going.
New Lifestyle: Adopting a new lifestyle is never easy at first. It requires leaving behind longstanding habits for a different way of living, and regardless of the benefits, switching up a routine is always hard. However, as you start to feel better both physically and mentally, you’ll realize why choosing good nutrition and exercise is such an important step toward achieving a healthy, happy life