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Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood on June 08, 2012

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James Rippe, MD. Assoc. Professor of Medicine Tufts University School of Medicine

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What 5 things would you tell me that I need to do to keep and improve my health?

If you want to eliminate, not eliminate, significantly lower your risk of chronic disease, there are five things that you can do.

Number one, don't smoke cigarettes.

Now everybody knows they shouldn't smoke, but it's very, very important to not smoke cigarettes and if you've had trouble quitting, get some help.

Number two, get 30 minutes of physical activity on most, if not all, days. If there were a magic bullet in medicine, it would be physical activity.

And it doesn't have to be strenuous, moderate intensity, walking is the second thing.

Number three, follow some sound nutritional practices. And they are not complicated. Eat more fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, less fat in the diet, and optimally, two fish meals a week.

Point number four is maintain a proper body weight. Now, body mass index is something that you can look up on the Internet. You can look it up on WebMD.

You can look it up on a variety of different sites.

But for the average woman in the United States who is 5 foot, four inches tall, it means weighing less than 146 pounds.

Now the fifth practice is the most controversial for women, but this is what the nurses' trial found, is consume a half an alcoholic beverage a day.

I always say to my patients, now if you don't drink, I'm not telling you to start but there is a literature that suggests that both in men and women, moderate alcohol consumption,

and for a woman, that's about a half an alcoholic beverage a day, a half a glass of wine, half a beer, or half a shot of distilled spirits lowers, your risk of heart disease.

It's the most controversial, so if you don't want to do that, don't worry about it. But the other ones are very important.

Don't smoke cigarettes, engage in regular physical activity, follow a few simple nutritional practices and maintain a proper body weight.

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