Health is a state of complete physical, emotional and social well-being. It does not just mean you are not sick. When we are healthy, our body is functioning properly. We feel good, and have the energy and motivation to do the things we like to do. To achieve overall health and wellness, we need to make good choices for our bodies (physical health), mind (emotional health), and for others (social well-being).

Physical health is achieved when we make smart choices about how we treat our bodies. Eating healthy foods, drinking water, being physically active, and getting enough sleep help make our bodies healthy.

Healthy eating means eating a variety of foods from each food group. MyPlate illustrates the five food groups that are the building blocks for healthy eating.

First, we want to fill half our plate with veggies and fruits. Veggies and fruits provide vitamins, minerals and fiber our bodies need to grow and be active. The other half of our plate should be split between grains and protein foods. Whole grains are best because they are more nutritious and provide long-lasting energy. Examples of whole grains are whole wheat bread and pasta, brown or wild rice, whole grain cereal and oatmeal. There are so many foods in the protein group- beef, pork, poultry, seafood, eggs, nuts, seeds, beans and lentils. Eat a variety of foods in this group to get the most benefits. And finally, pour a glass of low-fat (1%) milk or water to complete your meal.

Every cell, tissue and organ in your body needs water to function correctly so everyone should drink water with meals and snacks, as well as throughout the day. Drinking water helps you think, focus and concentrate better and also helps you digest your food and boosts your immune system. Your body depends on water for survival.

Getting regular physical activity provides great benefits. Physical activity helps us increase muscle strength, build strong bones and makes our hearts healthier. Exercise not only strengthens our heart and lungs, but also releases endorphins which are powerful chemicals that energize us and lift our minds and spirit. Youth should strive for at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day while adults should strive for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity 5 days per week.

Emotions play an important role in health and wellness. Emotional wellness is achieved when a person feels excited about life and themselves. It means being able to deal with your feelings and manage stress in a positive way. People that are emotionally healthy are able to keep good relationships with others. For example, you have a healthy sense of humor, you bounce back from disappointments or you can motivate yourself to achieve your goals.

Getting enough sleep can help protect your mental health, physical health and quality of life. Sleep helps your brain work properly and helps you function well throughout the day. School-age children 5-10 years old need 10-11 hours of sleep and teens 10-17 years old need 8.5-9.5 hours of sleep.

Social well-being is achieved when a person can successfully contribute to their community. For example, people who have achieved social well-being may run for student body president, volunteer in different community service projects or simply being a good support system to your family.

It is important to make sure we are keeping our bodies’ healthy so we can enjoy life. Enjoying life starts with simple tasks that we can do on a daily basis. Once you start, you will be happy you decided to take the healthy route!

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