bicycle ridingLiving a healthy lifestyle is like assembling a set of building blocks. One healthy practice provides a foundation for another, and yet another. The impact of these healthy habits is substantial in the short term, but in the long-term, they promise life-altering improvements regardless of your age, your gender or the level of your physical abilities.

Here are five reasons to practice healthy habits in your life:

1. They Help Control Your Weight:

When you eat well and exercise regularly, you have a much better chance of maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding weight gain over the years. The Mayo Clinic recommends you keep active in simple ways, like walking instead of driving, and taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

A good breakfast keeps you from feeling hungry later, according to the American Dietetic Association (ADA). The ADA also recommends you eat at least five servings of fruits and veggies every day to help with weight control.

2. They Improve Your Mood:

Great physical habits pay off in mental health, as well. The Mayo Clinic says physical activity stimulates production of endorphins that keep you balanced and happy. A healthy diet and regular exercise contribute to a better physique, which is likely to boost your personal confidence and self-esteem. According to the American Council on Exercise, the short-term benefits of exercise include less stress and the ability to think more clearly.

Making and maintaining social connections is another healthy habit.  Having close friendships, volunteering, joining an organization or any kind of communal activity keeps the mind active and serotonin levels balanced, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.

3. They Combat Disease:

Healthy habits lessen your vulnerability to heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure, by keeping biomarkers such as cholesterol and blood pressure within target range. Regular physical activity and proper diet also reduce the likelihood of metabolic syndrome, diabetes, depression, cancer and arthritis, among other conditions.

4. They Boost Energy:

Remember how lethargic you feel when you eat too much of the wrong kind of food? We’ve all done it. Conversely, however, eating a balanced diet comprised of some combination of whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy products, and fruits and vegetables gives your body fuel to supercharge your energy.

Regular physical activity also gives you more energy, by improving muscle strength and boosting endurance. Exercise sends oxygen and nutrients throughout your body, and it promotes better sleep, which also supports your energy level.

5. Healthy Living Improves Longevity

Those building blocks of healthy living increase your chances of a longer life. A study by the American Council on Exercise reported on 13,000 participants over an eight-year period. People who walked just 30 minutes daily were significantly less likely to die prematurely, compared with those who seldom exercised.

Do you want a longer, healthier life? Do you want more time to contribute to the world, and more time with the people you love? Get to work today, incorporating healthy habits into your lifestyle.