Making small changes every day can add up to big improvements in your overall health. Life’s Simple 7 outlines a few easy steps you can take to live a healthier lifestyle.
Two of these steps, Get Active and Eat Better, can help jump-start your whole health journey. Making choices that help you eat smart and move more can also help you lose weight, control cholesterol, manage blood pressure, reduce blood sugar and stop smoking!1, 2, 3
Try to get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of both), preferably spread throughout the week. Even short bursts of exercise can be beneficial, and all those little steps will lead to big gains in the long run!4
Eat a colorful diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish and nuts. Try to limit sugary foods and drinks, fatty or processed meats, and salt.1
Maintaining a healthy weight is important for your health. To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you eat. Learning to balance healthy eating and physical activity can help you lose weight more easily and keep it off.5
Cholesterol comes from two sources: your body (which makes all the cholesterol you need) and food made from animals. Eating smart, adding color and moving more can all help lower your cholesterol! 2,6
Manage Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. Sometimes the pressure in arteries is higher than it should be, a condition known as high blood pressure. Stress and poor diet have both been linked to high blood pressure, so it’s important to be well and eat smart to help positively influence your blood pressure numbers!1,7
Reduce Blood Sugar
Blood glucose (aka sugar) is an important fuel for your body. It comes from the food you eat, so it’s important to eat smart. Cut out added sugars by checking nutrition facts labels and ingredients, limiting sweets and sugary beverages, choosing simple foods over heavily processed ones and rinsing canned fruits if they are in syrup.1 And you can move more, because moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity can also help your body respond to insulin.8
Not smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health. Smoking damages your circulatory system and increases your risk of multiple diseases, but the good news is that your lungs can begin to heal themselves as soon as you stop. Moving more can help you on your journey, since physical activity can help you manage stress.9
Learn more at heart.org/MyLifeCheck
Last reviewed 1/2018
1.Van Horn, L., Carson, J. A. S., Appel, L. J., Burke, L. E., Economos, C., Karmally, W., . . . Kris-Etherton, P. (2016). Recommended dietary pattern to achieve adherence to the american heart Association/American college of cardiology (AHA/ACC) guidelines: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation, doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000462
2.Warburton DE, Nicol CW, Bredin SS. Health benefits of physical activity: The evidence. CMAJ. 2006;174(6):806
3.Van Horn, L., Carson, J. A. S., Appel, L. J., Burke, L. E., Economos, C., Karmally, W., . . . Kris-Etherton, P. (2016). Recommended dietary pattern to achieve adherence to the American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology (AHA/ACC) guidelines: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation, doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000462
4.U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2018, November). Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition.
5.Hill, J., Wyatt, H.R., Peters, J. (2012). Energy Balance and Obesity. doi.org/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.111.087213
6.Third report of the national cholesterol education program (NCEP) expert panel on detection, evaluation, and treatment of high blood cholesterol in adults (adult treatment panel III) final report. Circulation. 2002;106(25):3259-3260.
7.Gianaros, P. J., Sheu, L. K., Uyar, F., Koushik, J., Jennings, J. R., Wager, T. D., . . . Verstynen, T. D. (2017). A brain phenotype for Stressor‐Evoked blood pressure reactivity. Journal of the American Heart Association, 6(9) doi:10.1161/JAHA.117.006053
8.Benjamin, E., Blaha, M., Chiuve, S., et al. Heart disease and stroke Statistics—2017 update. Circulation. 2017;CIR.0000000000000485
9.Silverman, M. N., & Deuster, P. A. (2014). Biological mechanisms underlying the role of physical fitness in health and resilience. Interface Focus, 4(5), 20140040. doi:10.1098/rsfs.2014.0040 [doi]