Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in America, affecting millions nationwide every year. The good news is research shows that by exercising and eating right, you can drastically reduce your chances of developing the disease.

Exercising just 30 minutes a day can help prevent heart disease and stroke by strengthening your heart muscle and simultaneously lowering your blood pressure. It also helps maintain weight loss and increase energy.

“When you engage in physical activity, you subsequently burn calories,” says John Simmons, M.D., assistant professor of family medicine at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine. “Not only does exercise yield so many heart health benefits, but it also increases metabolism and energy.”

As you exercise, start with a goal and commit to it.

“You can even incorporate exercise into your time at the office by walking during your lunch hour, taking the stairs and standing while on the telephone,” Dr. Simmons says. “It’s important to choose an exercise routine that you can stick with and enjoy.”

Walking is an easy way to get started on making your life heart healthy.

“Studies show that for every hour of walking, you may increase your life expectancy by up to two hours,” Dr. Simmons says. “Walking is one of the single most effective forms of exercise to achieve heart health benefits and has the lowest dropout rate.”

It’s also important to eat right when considering heart health.

“Eating a healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of clogged arteries and cardiovascular diseases,” Dr. Simmons says. “Eating right and exercising are essential components to maintaining good health.”

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