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5 Steps to a Healthier Heart

Watching your weight is a good place to start for a healthier heart, but there's plenty more you can do.

4) Blood Sugar

Overweight and too little exercise -- that's what greatly increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. It's nothing to take lightly because it can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and even blindness.

A fasting blood sugar test -- after not eating or drinking anything but water for at least 12 hours -- is most commonly used to diagnose type 2 diabetes.

 

  • A normal fasting blood sugar is 100 or less.
  • Prediabetes is a fasting blood sugar of 101 to 125.
  • A fasting blood sugar of 126 or greater indicates diabetes.

 

"The bottom line is, take it seriously," Michael Crouch, MD, a family and community medicine specialist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, tells WebMD.

5) Exercise

Yes, you've heard it all before. But we're not talking about an unreasonable commitment here.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends aerobic exercising three to five days a week for 30 to 45 minutes. This doesn't mean strapping on the leotards and joining others in the gym. Exercise that strengthens the heart comes in all shapes and sizes -- biking, swimming, and jogging, to name a few.

"Walking is perfectly fine," says Crouch. "Anything is better than nothing, but 30 minutes a day is what we recommend."

With reporting by Jeanie Davis.

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