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.
3) Body Mass Index (BMI)
This is an indirect measure of your body fat, a quick way to see if you are
overweight. BMI may be overestimated in people with a lot of muscle mass, such
as body builders. It may also be underestimated in older people who have very
little muscle mass.
BMI uses a person's weight and height to gauge total body fat. You can use
WebMD's BMI calculator to determine
A BMI of 18.5-24.9 is ideal.
A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is overweight.
A BMI of 30 or more indicates obesity.
A BMI of 40 or more indicates morbid obesity, which
increases a person's risk of death from any cause by 50% to 150%, according to
The Cleveland Clinic.
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
Prediabetes is a fasting blood sugar of 101 to
- A fasting blood sugar of 126 or greater indicates
"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.
Yes, you've heard it all before. But we're not talking about an unreasonable
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
"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.