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50+: Live Better, Longer

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Improve Your Odds for a Long and Healthy Life

Step 2: Exercise Regularly continued...

Any activity that raises your heart rate counts. It could be brisk walking, sports, housework, or yard work.

How to Jump-Start Your Exercise Plan

  • Remember that some activity is better than none. When you have a choice between walking or driving, choose walking.
  • Find activities that you like and that keep you coming back.
  • Start slowly. You're more likely to stick with a plan that's not too hard.
  • Make your workouts longer and harder gradually, when you feel ready.

Step 3: Quit Smoking

Get a health boost. No matter how old you are when you quit smoking, you improve your chances for a healthy life almost immediately. For example:

  • A smoker's heart rate drops within 20 minutes after the last cigarette.
  • Carbon monoxide levels in the blood drop to normal 12 hours after quitting.
  • Within 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting, a smoker's heart attack risk begins to drop, and lung function begins to improve.
  • One year of not smoking cuts the risk of heart disease in half.

Know that it’s never too late. If you’re a smoker who has developed a health problem, giving it up can still make a difference. For example, if you need surgery, chemotherapy, or other treatments, quitting smoking helps your body respond to treatment and heal. If you've had cancer, it may also lower the risk of a cancer returning or a second cancer developing.

How to Jump-Start Your No-Smoking Plan

  • Make a list of reasons you want to quit.
  • Set a quit date.
  • Prepare yourself for challenges by mapping out ways you will cope.
  • Let friends and family know about your plans to quit.
  • Clear your surroundings of cigarettes and anything that makes you want to smoke.
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Reviewed on March 04, 2013

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