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6 Simple Steps to Keep Your Heart Healthy

A healthy heart -- and a healthier you -- starts today with these quick tips.

Work Toward a Healthy Body Weight

Gaining weight is a constant threat for most Americans in our world of cheap, convenient, and decadent foods. And extra pounds -- especially if you tip into obesity -- raise the risk of a heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure.

Now the good news: Losing even a few pounds starts you on the road to a healthier heart. Lose a few more and you're likely to have more energy and sleep better, too. Here are the basics:

  • Go for good nutrition: Choose foods that are rich in nutrients, not just empty calories. A can of regular cola has over 120 calories and a lot of added sugar. Added sugar can give you a lot of empty calories without a lot of nutritional benefits. For a nutrient-packed snack worth the calories, try a palmful of mixed nuts. That has about 165 calories and is packed with protein and heart-healthy fats.
  • Balance calories: Be aware of the balance between the calories you eat and the calories your body needs. To lose weight, eat fewer calories than you burn.
  • Get physical: Get moving at least 30 minutes daily, most days of the week. Children and teens need at least 60 minutes of activity each day.

Find Your Personal Best Way to Quit Smoking

Cancer, lung disease, a higher chance of a heart attack: The damages smoking can do are well-known. Did you know that tobacco is also linked to early menopause, infertility, and pregnancy complications?

There’s no best way to quit smoking. Medicine, support groups, counseling, or a combination of all three may be what it takes to help you quit. Reach out, get help.

Schedule Checkups

Regular blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol checks, as well as physical exams, are important to keep your heart healthy. Two conditions that can hurt your heart -- high blood pressure and high cholesterol -- are "silent." That means you typically won't know you have them unless you get tested. Ask your doctor how often you need a heart checkup and put the next one on your calendar now.

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Reviewed on January 08, 2013

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