If you live in the United States, you can expect to live around 78.7 years, the average life expectancy as of 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A healthy lifestyle during those years can group you in with the nearly 7 in 10 people in the U.S. considered to be in excellent or very good health. However, choosing bad habits, such as a poor diet, lack of exercise, irregular sleep patterns and smoking or excessive alcohol use, might lump you in with the 38 million people who are limited due to one or more chronic health conditions. The choice is yours.



The Benefits of a Nutritious Diet
It can be satisfying to indulge in your favorite unhealthy foods, whether it’s burgers and fries, pizza and soda or cake and cookies. However, too many of those indulgences, and you’ll join the 35.7 percent of people in the U.S. who are obese, as of 2009-2010, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. When you choose to eat a healthful, moderate-calorie diet that avoids added sugars, unhealthy fats and too much sodium, your risk for diseases such as heart disease, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancers goes down.

The Perks of Physical Activity
An active lifestyle works hand in hand with a nutritious diet to keep your body in tip-top shape. Make the choice to exercise regularly -- 30 minutes of cardio a day, with two strength-training sessions a week -- and you improve your chances of living a longer and healthier life. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, benefits of regular exercise include prevention of diseases such as osteoporosis, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes; reduced symptoms from depression and anxiety; better heart, lung and muscle fitness; and better quality of sleep.

The Advantages of Sleep
When it comes to sleep, it’s all about moderation. You don’t want to sleep your days away, but getting the recommended amount of sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle, says “Health” magazine. While you catch some ZZZs, your brain strengthens memories, improves on skills you learned and boosts your creativity. You might also enjoy the benefit of weight loss or maintenance -- when you’re tired, certain hormones that drive appetite increase in your blood, David Rapoport, director of the NYU Sleep Disorders Program, told “Health.” Make adjustments to your lifestyle to get seven to nine hours a sleep a night, the amount recommended by the National Sleep Foundation.

The Rewards of Skipping Alcohol and Tobacco
Avoiding cigarettes and alcohol requires making two separate lifestyle choices. However, according to the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, the two habits often go hand in hand, meaning that if you drink regularly, you’re more likely to smoke -- and vice versa. Alcohol consumption increases the risk of liver disease, certain cancers, cardiovascular disease and alcohol toxicity, while smoking boosts chances of lung disease, certain cancers and cardiovascular disease. If you choose to drink alcohol, keep it to one to two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women, says Harvard School of Public Health. A healthy lifestyle means skipping the cigarettes entirely.

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