The Long-Term Benefits of Exercise, Nutrition and Sleep

By Luke Schmaltz ; Updated June 13, 2017

Regular exercise, a balanced diet and adequate amounts of rest are habits that are essential to long-term health. Dedication to each of these principles can boost your immunity, elevate your brain function and help you maintain a healthy weight. Achieving optimal results in these areas is a cumulative practice, and balance within one area of your life leads to easier success in another.

Regular Exercise as Preventative Maintenance

Regular exercise boosts your high-density lipoprotein, or good cholesterol, and reduces unhealthy triglycerides. This dynamic decreases your risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, metabolic syndrome and a host of other health concerns by keeping your blood flowing smoothly. Good circulation improves endurance, helping you get through your daily routine efficiently. Working out also elevates your brain's secretion of serotonin. Healthy levels of serotonin achieved through regular exercise can make you feel happier and more relaxed -- acting as a natural combatant against depression and anxiety.

Feed Your Body Well for a Balanced Mind

The human body relies on healthy fats, proteins and vegetable nutrients for optimal functioning, growth and healing. These things are becoming increasingly rare in the everyday food supply. Good nutrition depends on adhering to distinct guidelines in your long-term food buying habits. A regular diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids from avocados and coconuts, protein from grass-fed beef and fiber from organic vegetables not only fuels the body for for daily activity, but also it fuels the brain. Daily intake of essential fatty acids averts long-term problems with depression, anxiety, moods swings and hyperactivity, and the consumption of vitamin B-12 from protein helps to avoid memory loss and brain shrinkage.

Your Brain Needs Time to Process Experiences

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep per night for optimal mental health. The brain needs this time to perform the necessary function of memory consolidation, which is the formation of long-term memories taken from recent experiences and internalized information. Without this your mental faculties and your ability to learn suffers, and your risk of injury from falling asleep while working or driving increases. Sleep affects hormone production, as well. Adequate sleep results in lower grehlin levels and higher leptin levels -- hormones that stimulate and suppress appetite, respectively.

A Synergistic Effect Across Three Areas

Exercise, nutrition and sleep can be seen as an interrelated trinity of health. The condition of one area affects another, which in turn influences the third. Good nutrition helps you to exercise vigorously, which in turn helps you to sleep better. Good sleep stimulates a balanced appetite, which causes you to exercise for health-maintenance reasons and not just weight loss. Frequent exercise can make you happier, prompting you to eat healthier and with a clear conscience sleep better.

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