Wellbeing / 13 May, 2020

The importance of a healthy lifestyle in reducing your chances of becoming unwell

Dr Goh Lit Ching

A healthy lifestyle involves any behaviour that benefits your physical, mental and emotional health. Beginning a healthy lifestyle often requires changing your mindset.

5 benefits of living a healthy lifestyle

  1. Maintaining a healthy weight – Having a balanced diet and exercising regularly can help you avoid excess weight gain and maintain a healthy weight. Unhealthy habits such as crash dieting are not sustainable options and often take a toll on your health, causing conditions to develop such as gastritis and eating disorders.
  2. Feeling more energetic – When you have a healthy lifestyle, your metabolism works faster and you have higher levels of natural energy. Not only does your body receive the correct fuel to maintain your energy levels, but your muscle strength tends to increase and you will generally feel less fatigued.
  3. Getting a better sleep – A healthy lifestyle with adequate exercise helps you fall asleep faster and reach a deeper non-REM (deep sleep) stage easier. Deep sleep is important for your body to recuperate as well as strengthening your immune system.
  4. Helps combat chronic diseases – Unhealthy lifestyles can have long term impacts on your health including causing cardiovascular diseases, metabolic diseases, joint diseases, cancer and so on, which also leads to a lower life expectancy. Prevention is always better than a cure.
  5. Improves mental health and mood – Leading a healthy life helps you cope better with stress and become more resilient to changes in your daily tasks. Research has shown that endorphins, which is a type of chemical in the brain released during physical exercise, play an important role in feeling happy and positive.

What are the most important things I should do to achieve a healthy lifestyle?

  • Regular exercise can improve cardiovascular health, boost your immune system and increase your energy levels. The Health Promotion Board (HPB) advises each and every one of us to achieve 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. The benefits from regular exercise are cumulative. If you have no time to commit to sessions with a long duration, try to do short sessions of 15 to 20 minutes of exercise a day, combining these to achieve the suggested duration in a week.
  • Healthy eating is important. With every meal, try to incorporate large servings of fruit, vegetables and other fibres such as whole grains into your diet. When it comes to protein consumption, choose lean meats like fish and chicken breast or plant proteins. For dairy products, go for the low-fat version if available. It is also wise to limit consumption of sugary beverages, such as soft drinks and sweetened fruit juice.
  • Regular health screening assists in early disease detection and serves as an important method of primary prevention. Annual screening with clinical examination, measurement of BMI, blood pressure checks, laboratory tests and imaging tests (as necessary) are helpful to keep your general health in check. It is also important to see your screening doctor afterwards for recommendations on improving your health further.
  • Good personal hygiene is important in our daily lives. Many diseases often get transmitted indirectly by unwashed hands coming into contact with our face or the food we handle. The most common examples include respiratory tract and gastrointestinal infections, which can cause major illness and affect your quality of life.
  • Vaccinations form an important part of your family’s and the public’s health. Vaccines prevent the spread of contagious, dangerous and deadly diseases. Some examples of recommended vaccines include influenza, hepatitis, measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, pneumococcal, and Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccines.
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