Do any research at all in the area of health and well-being and you’re going to find an abundance of results—just over 3.6 billion on Google, to be exact. With all of this information available to you, how can you expect to learn everything you need to know about these two potentially life-altering subjects without spending years online? Fortunately, you don’t have to read all of the articles and research studies in order to get the information that you need in order to live a longer and higher quality of life. That is, as long as you keep a few key points in mind.Key Point #1: Thin Does Not Mean HealthyEven though you may think that losing weight and getting skinny is your key to living more disease-free years, it isn’t exactly that simple. Most definitely, removing excess pounds off your frame is good for you, but being thin isn’t always the same as being healthy.There is a term called skinny fat and that is when you are within normal weight, but there is too much fat around your internal organs that could be affecting your health. On the contrary, being slightly above your suggested weight doesn’t mean that you’re destined to an early death, especially if that weight is due to your high muscle mass. This is why there is such a focus on eating healthy foods to support optimal body function. In the end, your weight is just one factor of the health and wellness equation.Key Point #2: Everything You Do MattersWe are very good at telling ourselves that one little indiscretion doesn’t matter. So what if I ate a bowl of ice cream last night? It doesn’t matter. It’s just one. It’s not like it is going to hurt me that much. Besides, I won’t eat any tonight so we’re all good. Right? While it is certainly true that one not-so healthy decision or small treat isn’t going to derail our healthy future forever, we’re often not honest with ourselves about how often we actually engage in these types of behavior. In other words, if I were with you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, would I see you as being as healthy as you say you are? Probably not.The reality is that absolutely everything you do (and don’t do) matters when it comes to your health and well-being. It is okay to have that piece of all-meat pizza or one of your aunt’s homemade cookies every once in a while, but don’t lie to yourself about how often you are giving in. If you do, you are the only one who will lose.Key Point #3: Exercise is a Key Part of the Health and Wellness EquationIt is so easy to get sucked into the eating programs that tell you that you don’t have to work out to lose weight. And they’re right. Realistically, you can shed some or all of your excess pounds without ever stepping food on a treadmill or picking up a resistance band. You can, but the real question is should you?Exercising regularly does more for you than just promote weight loss. It also boosts bone density and muscle strength, two factors that become increasingly important as you grow older. Additionally, many studies have found that engaging in a consistent exercise program can actually increase your longevity, meaning that you will likely live longer just because you are dedicated to your fitness. That’s a positive benefit, don’t you think?Maybe it would help to change the way you think about exercise. Instead of putting it at the same level as going to the doctor for your annual physical or getting your teeth cleaned, think of it in terms of how great it makes you feel. Pay attention to the stress it takes out of your body, the energy it puts into it, and the number of years you are adding with family and friends simply by doing it as that may help you look forward to it as opposed to dreading it.Key Point #4: Prevention Is Always Easier Than Finding a CureAre you the kind of person who doesn’t worry about the negative health consequences of your actions because you feel that you can “fix” whatever ails you? If you are, sadly, this is not always the case. People die every day from seemingly common health issues that couldn’t always be reversed. Health issues that they possibly could have prevented.Perhaps the most glaring example of this is smoking as this behavior can negatively impact you, sometimes to the point where nothing can be done. Have some people rebounded from lung cancer caused by smoking? Yes, but not everyone that gets that lucky. And while not smoking does not ensure that your lungs will remain cancer free, it does cut your risk as smoking is linked to approximately 90 percent of the cancers associated with the lungs. Here’s the deal: prevention is always easier than finding a cure. Keep this in mind as you make your choices each and every day. Some health issues can’t always be reversed, and the ones that can are probably going to at a minimum cost you money, ill feelings, and time that you will never get back. Is it really worth it?Key Point #5: Your Health is Largely Within Your ControlThere is no denying that genetics play a role in your health and well-being. However, the actions you take and behaviors you engage in play an arguably bigger role yet. This is good news as it means that your health is largely within your control.When you commit to living a lifestyle that revolves around healthy food and being physically active, you reduce your risk of potentially life-threatening conditions such as cardiovascular disease, heart disease, and diabetes. When you strive to reduce stress and live in a way that is relaxing and peaceful, that is when your health does the best, rejuvenating and invigorating you so that you reach the highest levels in life possible.There you have it—five keys to living a life of optimal health and well-being. I’m interested in hearing your thoughts. What do you think is most important to your health and wellness?