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Sleep, Exercise, and Diet: Three Pillars of a Healthy Life

The human body is an amazing thing. If you've ever run a marathon, held a newborn baby, or learned a new language, you've probably seen a glimpse of the potential of the human mind and body functions; however, your body will not take care of itself. You need discipline in several areas of well-being in order to enjoy a healthy life: sleep, exercise, and a proper diet.

Sleep Is Precious

The average adult needs seven to eight hours of sleep every night for optimal performance during the day. Insufficient sleep can have detrimental effects on your health. Your body depends on sleep to recuperate after daily wear and tear. Your body also regains energy to fight germs, harmful bacteria, and sickness while you sleep. With enough sleep, your immune system should withstand the common cold and flu.

A college all-nighter here and there may not make a big difference, but continual sleepless nights will leave you deprived and susceptible to illness or disease. The Division of Sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School reports conditions like obesity and diabetes are linked to lack of sleep, among other reasons. Sleep is also a critical component to recovery after a long day of work, school, or exercise, Harvard says. Muscle growth, tissue repair, and protein synthesis occur while you sleep.

Look Good, Feel Good

It is safe to say that most Americans don’t exercise because it’s enjoyable. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed 450,000 random adults (18 and over) across the US in early 2013 and concluded 80 percent of Americans do not exercise the recommended amount each week. You've heard it before and the fact hasn't changed: exercise helps you lead a healthy life.

Your exercise routine doesn't need to be particularly strenuous in order to reap the benefits. The government recommends at least 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic exercise each week—that is less than 30 minutes a day of cardio. Throw in some weight lifting exercises twice a week that will surely set you up for success. Not only will you see small benefits such as lower risk for heart disease, diabetes, and lower blood pressure, but you will also feel better about yourself. You might even lose weight with the proper diet.

Eat Right

You don’t need to be on a full-blown diet in order to enjoy a healthy life. Every food is good in moderation, but you should strive for a well-balanced diet that includes all aspects of the food pyramid. Every human body is different, and you might face challenges if you have food allergies or other medical factors that contribute to weight gain. If you are concerned that your diet is affecting your day-to-day activities, seek trusted resources for information about portion control or consult with your doctor about what you can do to lose weight.

Generally speaking, if you eat right, exercise regularly, and get a full night of sleep, you will be prepared for a long and healthy life.

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