2. Get Moving
According to the AHA, nearly 70 percent of Americans don't get the physical activity they need. But daily physical activity can increase your quality and length of life. Moderate exercise can help you lose weight, reduce your chances of stroke, diabetes and heart disease complications, lower your blood pressure and prevent other serious medical complications.
Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity a day, five times per week. Here are some easy ways to get moving:
- Start walking -- Walk just fast enough to get your heart rate up. Try taking brisk, 10-minute walks throughout the day. Park farther away from your destination. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk the dog after dinner or walk to a neighborhood destination instead of driving.
- Do chores -- Outdoor chores like gardening, raking leaves and washing the car are good ways to get moving. Cleaning house does it, too. Try turning on some music and dancing while doing chores.
Even small changes like these can give you health benefits, but you'll see bigger benefits when you increase the duration, frequency and intensity of your activities. Always talk with your doctor to find out if there are any activities that you should not be doing.
3. Lose Weight
Being overweight is a risk factor for heart disease all on its own. Extra weight puts more burden on your heart, lungs, blood vessels and bones. Being overweight increases the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, as well.
Losing even 10 pounds can produce a significant reduction in blood pressure.
- Talk to your doctor -- Find out your body mass index (BMI), which is your body weight relative to your height. Find out what your BMI should be, and find out what your calorie intake should be for someone of your age, gender and level of physical activity.
- Keep track of what you eat -- This will tell you a lot about your eating habits and help you make smart decisions, like controlling portion sizes and choosing nutrient-rich foods.
- Set reasonable goals -- Don't go for fad diets that claim you'll lose 10 pounds in a week. Slow and steady weight loss is more likely to stay off, and you'll be healthier in the long run.
The good news is, if you put steps one and two into place -- eating healthier foods and getting more active -- step three should be a natural by-product of your efforts.
Your heart works hard for you -- start taking better care of it today so that it can keep working for you for a long time.
The Food and Drug Administration approved the health claim that "25 grams of soy protein per day as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease." Additional research over the last decade indicates that soy, and a peptide within soy called lunasin, could work to prevent a variety of other hereditary health conditions.
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