No one wants to hear that their heart is not functioning at the level it should be. By taking preventative measures now, you can cut your risk for cardiovascular disease and other heart issues.

Right now, we want to focus on preventative measures; these are a few things you can start doing today to keep your heart healthy, and keep you on the right track for a happier, healthier life:

- Get Exercise: We know you've heard this time and time again, but physical exercise is so important for your heart. The American Heart Association calls for 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least 5 times a week. For kids, 60 minutes of exercise is recommended. And for what counts as moderate exercise? You can go for a brisk walk, bike riding, playing volleyball and things like that. Think of activities that will get your heart-rate up, but it doesn't have to be extreme.

- Get Regular Doctor Check-Ups: To keep your heart healthy, you should have your cholesterol under control, your blood pressure should be a good level, and you shouldn't have high blood sugar. If you're having issues with any of these, your doctor can give you tips and/or prescribe medicine to get you to where you need to be. Plus, if you're having any symptoms that something isn't right, you can tell your doctor and have it looked at before it becomes a serious issue.

- Lose Weight: If you are overweight, you're putting more stress on your heart. Losing a few pounds can make a big difference, and if you're getting regular check-ups your doctor will tell you the same thing.

- Eating Healthy: It goes hand-in-hand with losing weight. But if you don't need to lose any weight, you still need to make sure you're eating the right things. Make sure you're getting your daily intake of fruits and veggies, eat lean meats, dairy that's low in fat, and whole grains.

- Stop Smoking: If you're a smoker, this is just one more reason to quit. And if you're having a hard time breaking the habit, you can talk to your doctor (during your regular check-ups), they can give you tips and tricks for quitting, suggest over-the-counter products, and even prescribe something if you're having a really hard time.

This list may seem like a lot, but making simple changes in your everyday life can have a huge impact on your health, and especially your heart. Start with one on the list, and continue to add more healthy choices once you make it a habit. The sooner you start making these healthy lifestyle changes, the easier it will be.



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