Every decision of your day contributes to your overall health. Consciously and subconsciously, you are constantly telling your body how you want it to look and feel.
Year after year, studies have proven that if you treat your body right, you’ll reap some amazing benefits. We are seeing examples of how you feel on the inside determines what happens on the outside. For that, you truly can’t put a price on living a healthy lifestyle.
What is a healthy lifestyle?
A lifestyle includes what you eat, who you socialize with, how you dress, and more.
The operative words here are balance, discipline and responsibility. We all have impulses and cravings. When you choose a healthy lifestyle, you make your decisions with your future in mind. You consider that things may feel good in the moment, but they are not wise for your long-term health. Yes, even eating that one extra cookie!
How does a well-rounded lifestyle translate to good health?
First there’s your physical health, for which benefits are obvious. The American Medical Association found it was true for both men and women – individual lifestyle factors are directly linked to risks of heart disease and heart failure.
Then there’s the mental side, and for this we can’t say enough. When you exercise, you produce endorphins. These are magical receptors in your brain that improve mood function and decrease stress. They are said to have similar effects to opiates, but they’re naturally produced! Those who exercise often also see improvements in cognitive function and decreased levels of stress. Imagine what this can do for your professional life.
On the other side of that is sugar. A 2012 study at UCLA showed high intake of fructose (sugar) can hinder communication between brain cells – i.e., it literally slows down your brain. We know sugar is delicious, but remember one of the operative words…balance.
Benefits of Feeling Good About Your Health
An analysis of a self-reported health survey with more than 8000 participants found that the worse people described their health in the beginning of the study, the less likely they were to be living 30 years later. The study suggests that there is a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts when it comes to rating one’s own health. There have previously been several short-term studies finding that how people rate their own health is a predictor of their mortality, but this the first to examine the issue beyond a 5-10 year scope. The short time span of these studies has left questions about whether people who reported poor health were actually having early symptoms of health conditions or disease, prior to being diagnosed.
The analysis was conducted by researchers at the University of Zurich’s Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine. In 1970 the participants were first asked to describe their health, on a scale ranging from “excellent” to “very poor.” In 2000, the researchers assessed how the participants had fared. The study found that men who rated their health as “very poor” were more than three times as likely to die over the study compared to men of the same age who reported their health as “excellent.” Women who reported very poor health had double the risk of death compared to women said that they were much healthier. Rates of death gradually grew with each notch lower on the health scale. Overall, roughly half of the participants rated their health as ‘‘good’’. After accounting for factors including smoking history, disease diagnoses, blood pressure, and use of medications, the trend was significant. The analysis concluded that that self-reported health offers relevant and sustained health information beyond medical history or classical risk factors.
In response to the study, Dr. Mona Misra, a bariatric surgeon in Los Angeles, said “This is something to keep in mind for individuals struggling with their weight, where self-esteem takes a beating with repeated failed attempts at dieting, and discrimination they face daily. Giving people a solution that can actually work long term will not only improve their health through ways we already know about, such as diabetes and hypertension resolution, but by treating their weight and improving their self-esteem and self-image, this study shows that their overall health and wellness should also be benefited. This once again reinforces what weight loss surgeons understand: obesity affects the entire body from head to toe, and by attacking obesity we are treating the entire body.”
Perhaps people who rate their health as ‘excellent’ have an advantage over others, and not solely because of absence of disease, but because of a high satisfaction with their life. These findings, combined with other long-term results, suggest that people who have an optimistic view of their health are not just tuned in to medically induced premonitions–they may also have personality attributes that boost their resilience and boost their well-being.
The whole process builds upon itself. Once you’re in a better mood, you’re more inclined to socialize and go out more. Human beings are social creatures, after all. We function better when we’re more social, as proven by a study by University College of Dublin.
It’s a Lifestyle Change
Your lifestyle is about far more than just what you eat. That’s just the start. There’s also your exercise, moderation and socializing. Remember, each part of your health is not exclusive – one thing affects the other. The healthier you eat, the more inclined you are to exercise, as you have more energy.
Your health is the foundation of your life. It affects everything around you. The good news? You are in charge of it. This is your story, and you have the opportunity to determine its course.