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The Advantages of Diet & Exercise

By Shannon Sukovaty

When it comes to diet and exercise, most people decide to make healthier choices when they want to drop a few pounds. Losing weight to look fabulous is only one advantage of adapting a healthier lifestyle. For many individuals, the motivation to change their current diet and exercise routine may be found in the many health benefits that can be achieved.

Reduces Risk of Disease

Eating healthy and exercising for a minimum of 30 minutes a day can dramatically reduce your risk of many serious diseases. The American College of Sports Medicine reports that the leading health-related cause of death is cardiovascular disease. Moving your body for only 30 minutes a day can help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Diabetes, high-blood pressure, osteoporosis, arthritis and cancer are only a few more of the diseases that can be prevented with a healthy diet and exercise.

Improves Mental Health

Exercise triggers chemicals in the brain called endorphins that help you feel happy and relaxed. Eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet keeps the brain functioning properly and can help stabilize mood swings. Fernando Gómez-Pinilla, a UCLA professor of neurosurgery and physiological science, suggests that diet, exercise and sleep have the direct ability to change brain function and mental health. Through better diet and exercise, you will reduce stress, increase mental alertness, reduce depression and improve your self-esteem.

Keeps Weight Controlled

A healthy diet and daily exercise will keep you body fat low and your weight under control. When you move your body, you burn calories, and when you eat healthy, you consume fewer calories. The fewer calories you eat and the more calories you burn, the easier it is to lose weight and keep it under control. When counting calories, 1 pound is equal to 3,500 calories. By exercising 30 to 60 minutes daily and reducing your daily calorie intake by 500 calories, you can lose 1 to 2 pounds weekly.

Increases Energy

Cardiovascular exercise helps circulate oxygen through your body to improve heart and lung efficiency. The healthier and more efficient your heart and lungs, the more energy you have. Your diet also can affect your energy levels. When you eat a balanced diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals, you provide your body with the energy it needs to function properly. Choose lean proteins, complex carbohydrates and essential fatty acids and avoid sugar, caffeine and high-fat foods for the highest energy levels throughout the day.

Better Sleep

Increasing your daily activity level and eating healthy will help you get a better night sleep. When the body has the essential nutrients it needs to function properly and is getting the required amount of oxygen from moving, the brain functions better. When the brain functions better, it releases the appropriate chemicals to induce relaxation and sleep. A 16-week study, reported in the "Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine," found that a supportive diet and exercise program can help with sleep patterns and may reduce sleep apnea.

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