You can reduce your risk for heart disease. Start with these 7 tips for better health:
1. Aim for a healthy weight — and shape. Your body’s shape and weight tell a lot about your health. Larger waistlines have been linked to heart disease because you may be carrying the kind of fat in your abdomen that affects heart health. General guidelines say that a healthy waist size is less than 40 inches for men and less than 35 inches for women.
Another clue to how healthy you are is your body mass index (BMI), a number that’s calculated from your weight and height. A healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. Find out yours with our BMI calculator
Concerned about your weight? Talk with your doctor. Better eating habits and more exercise can help you get in shape.
2. Trim extra calories. Here’s an easy way to improve your diet: Cut down the size of your portions and don’t go back for seconds. You can also avoid extra calories by choosing water instead of sodas or sports drinks. Opt for black coffee instead of calorie-rich coffee drinks.
3. Choose nutrient-rich foods. Fill your diet with vegetables and fruits, unprocessed grains and legumes, and a small amount of meat. Try to limit milk, dairy products and foods high in saturated fat, as well as refined sugar, sweets and soft drinks containing sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.
4. Get plenty of physical activity. If you’re new to exercising, try walking about 30 minutes a day at least 3 days – preferably 5 days – a week. Remember, getting active doesn’t have to mean going to a gym. Physical activity includes walking your dog, raking the yard, shoveling snow or walking a little farther from your car to the store.
6. Manage your stress in healthy ways. Make time for relaxation, recreation and time with loved ones. Get involved in the community and, if it suits you, faith-based activities.
7. Quit bad habits. If you smoke, quit. Even if you don’t, try to avoid being around secondhand smoke. Limit alcohol intake.
Another important way to prevent heart troubles is to manage any conditions you already have, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol (defined as low HDL and high LDL numbers) and diabetes.