Wellness consists of 3 basic components: a balanced diet, regular exercise and a smart lifestyle.
When you incorporate all three of these elements into your daily routine, you can live longer and healthier lives. And if you take on even one of them, you can improve your well-being.
Eating a healthy diet can reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other nutrition experts, a healthy diet is:
Rich in complex carbohydrates. Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes should make up 45 to 65 percent of an adult's diet. A daily diet that includes two cups of fruit, 2 1/2 cups of vegetables, and three or more servings of whole grains (about three ounces per day) also provides the recommended 20 to 35 grams of fiber.
Very varied. Eating a variety of foods will help you stick to recommended amounts of food for important vitamins and minerals.
Less fat. You shouldn't get more than 20 to 35 percent of your total calories from fat. How to reduce your fat intake: Choose lean meat over fatty cuts; skinless white meat poultry over dark meat poultry with skin; fat-free salad dressings versus normal dressings; fat-free or low-fat dairy products versus high-fat products; and baked or grilled appetizers over fried.
Low cholesterol. Keep your daily intake at 300 mg or less. Eat the recommended number of servings from the meat group (6 to 9 ounces per day), but don't indulge yourself too much. Remember that only animal products or foods made with animal products are high in cholesterol.
Low in sodium. Limit your sodium intake to 2,300 mg or less per day. How to Reduce Your Intake: Use less salt when preparing food. Add less of it at the table. Check food labels for high levels of sodium, then choose products with lower levels. Limit the use of prepared ready meals and condiments, which are usually high in sodium.
Regular exercise can reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, obesity, and osteoporosis. The USDA 2005 guidelines include 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise most days of the week for adults and 60 minutes or more every day for children. Be sure to ask your doctor before you start exercising. A balanced exercise program includes:
Aerobic exercise. This type of exercise makes your heart beat faster. It increases your cardiovascular endurance.
Weight training or strength training. Muscle strength and endurance will help you maintain a sustained exertion while exercising, doing household chores, gardening, or carrying things, and will help prevent falls in the elderly.
Flexibility exercise. Flexibility, or the ease with which you can move your joints and muscles over their entire range of motion, protects your muscles from stress and injury. It can also relieve back and joint pain, immobility, and improve balance. Always warm up before stretching major muscle groups.
These healthy habits can help extend your life:
Do not smoke. Cigarette smoking is the number one preventable cause of lung cancer and heart disease.
Drink moderately, if at all, alcohol. Moderate drinking is defined as no more than one drink a day for women and people over 65 years of age and no more than two drinks a day for men under 65 years of age. A drink is a 12-ounce bottle of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, or a 1/2-ounce shot of liquor. Heavy alcohol consumption increases the risk of liver disease and heart failure.
Schedule regular medical exams. Many potentially fatal diseases, including breast cancer, colon cancer, and heart disease, can be effectively treated if diagnosed early.
Wear a sunscreen with SPF 15 This protects against UVB and UVA on exposed skin all year round when you are outdoors. Basal cell carcinoma, the most common skin cancer, affects one in eight Americans. Sunscreens can provide effective protection. Be sure to apply the sunscreen correctly and use appropriate amounts.
Control stress and anger. Stress and anger can lead to heart disease. To relieve your stress, learn the basics of positive self-talk and do regular relaxation exercises. Learn to be empathetic and less suspicious of others' motives in order to keep your anger under control.