How to Have a Good General Healthy Body
In today’s hectic world that we live in, maintaining our good health is important. It’s easy to let stress take center stage and set us up for poor diet and lifestyle choices. Our diet, exercise and behavioral choices can have a significant effect on our health. If you have a poor or unhealthy diet, you may run the risk of weight gain or increased your risk of chronic diseases (like diabetes or high blood pressure). If you’re not active regularly, you may also run the risk of gaining weight but also miss out on the many benefits of exercise. If you smoke, don’t manage stress or don’t sleep well, you again can run the risk of having negative side effects on your health. Maintaining a generally healthy body will require you to make sure you’re making healthy choices in a multiple areas of your life.
Practicing Healthy Eating Habits
Monitor calories. To have a generally healthy body, you should try to maintain a healthy weight. If you’re overweight, you are not maintaining a generally healthy body.
- Calories are a unit of measurement. You eat calories from food and that energy is used to fuel your bodily functions and activities throughout the day.
- If you consume too many calories, you may run the risk of gaining weight. If you do not eat enough calories, you may lose weight. The American diet is based on a 2,000 calorie-per-day diet.
- You may need to change how many calories you eat daily to match your body’s needs and to maintain a healthy weight. To lose weight, it is considered safe to cut 500 calories from your diet and aim to lose about one to two pounds per week.
- Use an online calculator or smartphone app to find out how many calories your body needs. A good rule of thumb is that a moderately active adult needs about 15 calories per pound to maintain her weight. Track calories to see if your current diet meets your needs.
Eat a well-balanced diet. Having a well-balanced diet is one of the most important parts of maintaining a generally healthy body. Without a balanced diet, it’ll be very difficult to maintain proper health.
- A balanced diet means that you consume foods from each food group most, if not every day.
- In addition, you should consume a variety of foods within each food group. Having a wide variety of foods from food groups will allow you to consume a variety of different nutrients.
- Lastly, a balanced diet means eating the right proportions or servings of each food. If you eat mostly protein foods but very few fruits or vegetables, your diet isn’t balanced. Following the appropriate portion sizes of each food group: 3-4 oz (card deck sized) of protein, 1 cup vegetables or 2 cups leafy greens, 1/2 cup chopped or one small piece of fruit, and 1 oz or 1/2 cup of grains.
- Balance your meals and snacks during the day. Aim for three to four servings of protein daily, five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables, and three to four servings of grains (1/2 being whole).
Go for lean protein sources. Protein is an essential nutrient in your diet. It will provide the building blocks for many functions of your body including maintaining lean muscle mass, rebuilding cells and supporting your immune system.
- Lean protein sources include: poultry, eggs, seafood, lean beef, pork, legumes (nuts and beans) and tofu.
- Lean protein sources are low in fat and calories. This helps you get in adequate amounts each day without going over your daily calorie limit.
- Consuming adequate amounts of protein has also been associated with a general healthy body. Some of these include: better management of your appetite and a healthy weight, support healthy cholesterol and lipid levels and better management of diabetes.
Make half of your meals a fruit or vegetable. Fruits and vegetables are two of the most important food groups. These foods contain the highest amount of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
- High amounts of fruits and vegetables in the diet have been associated with a variety of beneficial effects on your general health including: decreased blood pressure, better management of blood sugar and diabetes, decreased risk of stroke and heart disease, prevent some types of cancers and decrease risk of blindness.
- Another thing to note about fruits and vegetables is that each color of vegetable or fruit contains different types of beneficial nutrients. In addition to eating adequate servings each day, make sure to choose a variety of different colors of items.
Make your grain choices whole grain. Whole grain foods have been associated with a variety of beneficial health effects to help promote a general healthy body. Try making more of your grain choices whole.
- Refined grains, or those that are more processed and not whole do not have as many nutritional benefits compared to whole grains. They’re typically lower in fiber, protein and other beneficial nutrients.
- Whole grains to try include: 100% whole wheat pasta and bread, brown rice, whole grain oats, farro, millet, quinoa and barley.
- Although all your grain choices may not be whole grains, health experts recommend trying to make at least 1/2 of them 100% whole grain. Some of the health benefits associated with whole grains include: increased fiber and other beneficial nutrients, reduced risk of heart disease diabetes and some cancers.
- If you are trying to lose weight, try limiting your carbohydrate intake.
Limit junk foods and processed foods. Although there is a wide range of processed foods (including both nutritious and unhealthy options), many are higher in calories, fat, sugar and preservatives.
- Most health experts recommend limiting processed foods or junk foods or eating them in moderation. Although they may not be the most nutritious choice, the occasional treat is appropriate.
- Choose wisely when you’re eating more indulgent items. Foods like chips, crackers, sweetened beverages, frozen meals, fast food, pastries or sweets shouldn’t be a daily occurrence.
- There are plenty of foods that are still considered very healthy and nutritious yet are still considered “processed.” These are OK to eat on a regular basis. Some items include: canned vegetables (look for cans that say “low-sodium”), frozen vegetables and fruit, pre washed lettuce and salad greens, and dairy products.
Drink adequate amounts of water. Water is a vital nutrient in your diet and plays many important roles in your body. If you do not consume enough hydrating fluids each day, you run the risk of being dehydrated.
- Most adults need at least eight 8-oz glasses of hydrating fluids daily. However some experts recommend consuming up to 10–13 glasses daily.
- If you are physically active or perspire a lot during the day or during physical activity, you’ll need to replace the fluid lost in addition to your regular daily intake.
- Consume caffeine-free and sugar-free beverages, as these are the healthiest and most hydrating. Items like water, flavored water, decaf coffee and decaf tea are appropriate.
- Dehydration has many negative side effects ranging from very minimal issues to more serious health effects. Some include: fatigue, mental fogginess, headaches, mood swings, kidney stones and urinary tract infections.
Take a vitamin and mineral supplements. Some health and nutrition experts may recommend taking a daily multivitamin. These “all-in-one” supplements can serve as a back up to the days you do not eat a healthy diet or are unable to meet all of your nutrient needs through foods.
- Supplements may also be beneficial for those with food allergies or intolerances, are very picky eaters or have dietary restrictions (like vegetarians or vegans).
- Supplements are not designed to replace food or to make up the majority of nutrient needs. Those who eat a healthy diet generally do not need to take supplements. In addition, if you have a healthy diet and lifestyle, vitamin supplements will not improve your health, cure or improve disease. They are only there as a backup.
- Always talk to your doctor about what supplements may be appropriate for you — supplements can interact with medications and are not always safe for everyone. Also inform all physicians of what supplements you’re taking, how much and how often.
If you’re overweight, how many calories can you safely cut per day?
Maintaining a Healthy Body with Exercise
Include enough cardio exercises. Cardiovascular or aerobic exercises are a very important part to a healthy lifestyle and generally healthy body.
- There are a huge amount of health benefits associated with regular and consistent exercise. Some include: improved mood, improved sleep quality, improves circulation, helps manage a healthy weight, decreases blood pressure and risk for stroke, manages and controls insulin, improves blood lipid and cholesterol levels, boosts energy and can help improve your self image.
- Health experts recommend getting at least 150 minutes of cardio activity each week (or 30 minutes five times a week). You can increase benefits by getting 300 minutes of aerobic activity each week (or one hour five times a week).
- Include a variety of activities each week. Exercises to try include: walking, jogging/running, dancing, swimming, aerobics classes, biking or hiking.
Do one to three days of strength training. The counterpart to regular aerobic exercise is strength training or resistance exercise. These activities help build and support lean muscle mass in addition to providing other health benefits. Strength training and adding muscle can even increase your metabolism and help you lose weight.
- Regular strength training has many benefits outside of building stronger muscles. Regular weight-bearing exercise helps decrease your risk of osteoporosis by making your bones stronger and denser.
- Experts recommend doing about two days of strength training each week. It’s important to work every major muscle group including: arms, chest, back, core and legs. Lift free weights, use weight machines or do weight bearing activities like yoga or pilates.
- Separate each strength training day by at least one day of rest to all your muscles to recover and repair efficiently.
Move more throughout the day. In addition to both strength training and planned cardiovascular exercise, it’s also important to just move more throughout the day or include more baseline activity. Although these types of activities aren’t huge calorie burners, they also have a significant amount of positive health side effects.
- Baseline activities refer to any exercise or activity that you do on a regular basis. This could be yard work or household chores, taking the stairs or walking throughout the day.
- There have been studies that show that after even one or two hours of sitting there are negative side effects including reduced blood flow, decreased calorie burn and more difficulty manage chronic conditions (like high blood pressure or diabetes).
- In addition to just moving more, some health experts even recommend getting up for just a few minutes about every hour.
Which muscle groups should you exercise during your strength training days?
Making Changes to Your Lifestyle
Quit smoking. Most people know smoking is considered an unhealthy behavior that can be linked to a variety of negative health problems. If you currently smoke, seriously consider quitting to help improve your general health.
- Smoking has been linked to numerous health problems including: lung cancer and disease, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, blindness and mouth disease.
- There are many different methods to help you quit smoking or other tobacco products. There are over-the-counter options (like gums), patches, prescription medications and even counseling programs.
Limit alcohol. Some studies have actually shown that very moderate alcohol consumption (less than one to two glasses every few days) can have positive effects on your health. However, many people drink more than this and higher amounts of alcohol can have negative side effects on your health.
- Heavy drinking or more excessive drinking (more than three drinks per day or more than seven drinks each week) can cause a variety of adverse health issues including: pancreatitis, stroke, high blood pressure, liver and brain damage.
- The recommendations for alcohol consumption are: women less than one glasses or servings daily and men less than two glasses or servings daily.
Get enough sleep. Regular and consistent sleep is very important to having a generally healthy body. When you don’t get adequate sleep this can negatively affect your health.
- Lack of sleep can cause a variety of things including: weight gain, increased hunger, fatigue, poor concentration, inability to concentrate or retain information and even increased mortality.
- Get at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Go to bed earlier, stay in bed later to help you get those extra hours.
- Also, make sure to turn off your TV, smartphone, tablet, or laptop. The light from these devices can make it difficult for you to fall asleep.
Manage stress. Chronic low-grade stress is very common today. It may not seem like it can have a negative affect on your health or body, but it actually has a major impact.
- Stress can cause a variety of adverse health issues including inadequate sleep, weight gain or weight loss, mood swings, fatigue/exhaustion, and many more.
- Managing stress is very important when you want to maintain general health. There are a variety of things you can do to help manage your stress including: talk to a friend or family member, go for a walk, meditate or do yoga, take a short nap, or listen to your favorite music.
- If you’re having more difficulty managing stress, consider seeing a therapist for additional help.
Weigh yourself. Your weight is a big determinant of whether you have a generally healthy body. Being either overweight or underweight is not healthy and can contribute to adverse health effects.
- Get on the scale and get your weight. Most experts suggest weighing yourself once a week, at the same time of day (right when you wake up is best), wearing the same clothing (or naked). If you are trying to lose weight, you may want to step on the scale about three times a week.
- If your weight is either too low or too high, consider making appropriate changes in your diet, exercise routine or lifestyle to help support a more healthy weight.
- You may also want to track your BMI, waist circumference or body fat percentage to get a more accurate picture of whether or not you’re at a healthy weight for your age, gender and body type.
- Remember that weight is constantly in flux, and your weight can change throughout the day and month based on many different variables (menstrual cycle for women, what you ate, if you are dehydrated, etc.).
Visit your doctor regularly. One of the most important parts of maintaining a generally healthy body is meeting with your primary care physician or other physicians. These doctors can help you manage any current health conditions you have but also be able to help you prevent any chronic healthy conditions you may be at risk for.
- You should meet with your primary care, dentist, OB/GYN or any other doctor at least one to two times a year. Going even when you’re healthy is important so that particular doctor can get a healthy baseline for your body.
- Consider seeing a registered dietitian. You may also want to consider seeing a registered dietitian. These health professionals can guide you towards a healthy diet to help you maintain health or improve it.
- Think about meeting with a life coach or therapist. Many times maintaining a healthy diet or exercise plan is easy. It’s maintain the stresses of life that can be more difficult. If you find that you cannot manage stress or are not happy, consider meeting a life coach or therapist to help you manage your emotions more appropriately.