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Healthy Diet Goals

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of Americans. We can reduce heart disease by promoting a healthy diet and lifestyle. Getting information from credible sources can help you make smart choices that will benefit your long-term heart health.

For the first time, the American Heart Association has defined what it means to have ideal cardiovascular health, identifying seven health and behavior factors that impact health and quality of life. We know that even simple, small changes can make a big difference in living a better life. Known as “Life’s Simple 7,” these steps can help add years to your life:

  1. don’t smoke;
  2. maintain a healthy weight;
  3. engage in regular physical activity;
  4. eat a healthy diet;
  5. manage blood pressure;
  6. take charge of cholesterol; and
  7. keep blood sugar, or glucose, at healthy levels.
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Physical activity improves quality of life

Do you want to add years to your life? Or life to your years?

Feeling your best boosts your zeal for life!

The American Heart Association recommends 30-minutes of moderate activity, but three 10-minute periods of activity are almost as beneficial to your overall fitness as one 30-minute session. This is achievable! Physical activity may also help encourage you to spend some time outdoors. Sunlight on your skin helps your body produce vitamin D, which brings many added health benefits.

Here are some reasons why physical activity is proven to improve both mental and physical health.

Physical activity boosts mental wellness.

Regular physical activity can relieve tension, anxiety, depression and anger. You may not only notice a "feel good sensation" immediately following your physical activity, but most people also note an improvement in general well-being over time during the weeks and months as physical activity becomes a part of your routine.

Exercise increases the flow of oxygen which directly affects the brain. Your mental acuity and memory can be improved with physical activity.

Physical activity improves physical wellness.

Stronger immunity
It enhances your immune system and decreases the risk of developing diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

Reduced risk factors
Becoming more active can lower your blood pressure by as much as 4 to 9 mm Hg. That's the same reduction in blood pressure delivered by some antihypertensive medications. Physical activity can also boost your levels of good cholesterol.

Physical activity prolongs your optimal health.

Without regular physical activity, the body slowly loses its strength, stamina and ability to function well. And for each hour of regular exercise you get, you'll gain about two hours of additional life expectancy, even if you don't start until middle age. Moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, for as little as 30 minutes a day has the proven health benefits listed above as well as:

  • Improves blood circulation, which reduces the risk of heart disease
  • Keeps weight under control
  • Helps in the battle to quit smoking
  • Improves blood cholesterol levels
  • Prevents and manages high blood pressure
  • Prevents bone loss
  • Boosts energy level
  • Helps manage stress
  • Releases tension
  • Promotes enthusiasm and optimism
  • Counters anxiety and depression
  • Helps you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly
  • Improves self-image
  • Increases muscle strength, increasing the ability to do other physical activities
  • Provides a way to share an activity with family and friends
  • Reduces coronary heart disease in women by 30-40 percent
  • Reduces risk of stroke by 20 percent in moderately active people and by 27 percent in highly active ones
  • Establishes good heart-healthy habits in children and counters the conditions (obesity, high blood pressure, poor cholesterol levels, poor lifestyle habits, etc.) that lead to heart attack and stroke later in life
  • Helps delay or prevent chronic illnesses and diseases associated with aging and maintains quality of life and independence longer for seniors

So why not see for yourself? Once you get over the inertia and find creative ways to fit physical activity into your life, we think you'll agree that the effort to get moving is worth it!


 

Common Diseases

Understand Your Risk for High Cholesterol

LDL cholesterol is produced naturally by the body, but many people inherit genes from their mother, father or even grandparents that cause them to make too much. Eating saturated fat, trans fats and dietary cholesterol also increases how much you have. If high blood cholesterol runs in your family, lifestyle modifications may not be enough to help lower your LDL blood cholesterol (View an animation of cholesterol). Everyone is different, so work with your doctor to find a treatment plan that's best for you.

More information:

 

Understand Your Risk for Diabetes

Diabetes contributes to about 225,000 U.S. deaths per year. However, many people with type 2 diabetes are not aware they have the disease and may already have developed various health complications associated with it.

Non-Modifiable Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes

There are a number of risk factors that increase a person's risk for developing prediabetes and, ultimately, type 2 diabetes. Some of these characteristics are beyond a person's control, such as:

  • Family history
    If you have a blood relative with diabetes, your risk for developing it is significantly increased. Map out your family history tree (PDF) and take it to your doctor to find out what it means for you.
  • Race or ethnic background
    If you are of African-American, Asian-American, Latino/Hispanic-American, Native American or Pacific Islander descent, you have a greater likelihood of developing diabetes.
  • Age
    The older you are, the higher your risk. Generally, type 2 diabetes occurs in middle-aged adults, most frequently after age 45. However, health care providers are diagnosing more and more children and adolescents with type 2 diabetes.
  • History of gestational diabetes
    If you developed diabetes during pregnancy or delivered a baby over 9 lbs., you are at increased risk.


Modifiable Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes

While some things that contribute to the development of diabetes are beyond a person's control, there are also a number of modifiable risk factors. By making healthy changes in these areas, people can reduce their risks or delay the development of diabetes and improve their overall quality of life.

  • Overweight/obesity
    About 50 percent of men and 70 percent of women who have diabetes are obese. If you are 20 percent or more over your optimal body weight, you have a higher risk of developing diabetes. Losing five to seven percent of your body weight can cut your risk of developing prediabetes in half, and your risk decreases even more as you lose more weight. Learn how to manage your weight.
  • Physical inactivity
    Along with overweight/obesity, physical inactivity ranks among the top modifiable risk factors for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. By being physically active at least 30 minutes a day, you can improve your health and minimize risks for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
    In addition to causing damage to the cardiovascular system, untreated high blood pressure has been linked to the development of diabetes. Learn more about high blood pressure and how to control it.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
    Drinking too much alcohol can, over time, increase your risk for diabetes. It can also raise your blood pressure. If you drink, limit your alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.  One drink equals a 12-ounce beer, a 4-ounce glass of wine, 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor, or one ounce of hard liquor (100-proof).
  • Smoking
    Smoking is the most important preventable cause of premature death in this country. A person who smokes 16 to 25 cigarettes per day is three times more likely to develop diabetes than a nonsmoker. Learn more about the importance of quitting smoking and how to get support when making this healthy choice.

By following our healthy living tips, you can take control of these modifiable risk factors, prevent or delay the development of diabetes, and improve your quality of life.

     

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