You Can Start Getting Healthier - Right Now

Do you have some unhealthy habits? Are you a couch potato? Do you eat too much? Drink too much? Smoke? You aren't alone. Well over half of all Americans are seriously overweight, according to the CDC and about 50 million are smokers.

But here's good news: Scientists say that even after decades of unhealthy habits, the human body has an incredible ability to heal. In fact, making healthy changes in diet and exercise can actually help ward off many future ills.

In all, about seventy percent of all chronic diseases in the U.S., including heart disease and some forms of cancer, can be prevented by making healthy lifestyle choices like these:

Exercise. Aerobic activity can significantly lower your risk of stroke, heart attack, as well as adult onset diabetes.

Enjoy fish often — a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that consuming eight ounces of fish weekly could cut the risk of stroke in half.

Lose weight if you need to. Being 30 lbs. over your ideal weight dramatically increases your chances of having heart disease — as well as diabetes, gallbladder problems, and some forms of arthritis.

Don't smoke! If you quit, blood vessels and coronary tissues will respond fairly quickly, and your risk of heart disease will drop accordingly.

"Take heart in the fact even small steps - such as eating more fruits and vegetables and becoming more active - can improve your health," notes Dr. Laurence Sperling, who heads Emory's HeartWise Risk Reduction Program. "The important thing is to begin to make the changes you can right now."

Fortunately, you can do a lot to lower your risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

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