Improve Your Odds for a Long and Healthy Life
How much people should exercise varies. A good goal is 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week.
Any physical activity that raises your heart rate counts. This includes activities such as:
- Brisk walking
- Recreational sports
- Yard work
Getting Started: 4 Steps to Regular Exercise
Try these steps to make exercise part of your daily life:
- Some activity is better than none. When you have a choice between walking or driving, choose walking.
- Find activities that you like and keep you coming back.
- Start slowly. Overly ambitious plans tend to end in burnout.
- Increase workout length or intensity in increments when you feel ready.
Quit Smoking for Better Health
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 two weeks to three 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 coronary heart disease in half.
If you are a smoker who has developed a health problem, giving it up can still make a difference. If you face surgery, chemotherapy, or other treatments, quitting smoking helps improve your body's ability to respond to treatment and heal. It may also lower the risk of a cancer returning or a second cancer developing.
Getting Started: Tips to Quit Smoking
To help you quit and prepare for quitting, try these strategies:
- 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.
Healthy Living: The Big Picture
Working toward a healthier life is not always easy. Some days may be harder than others. If you have trouble staying on track, Schreiber suggests this: "Ask yourself what kind of legacy you want to leave behind," he says. "Your purpose in life is up to you. When you have one, healthy choices make more sense."