You're truly never too young or too old to protect your heart. "The buildup of plaque in your arteries can silently start as early as your late teens and early 20s," explains Jennifer H. Mieres, M.D., professor of cardiology and population health and senior vice president, office of community and public health, at the North Shore-LIJ health system. Lower your odds of developing heart disease by keeping an eye on these key factors and lifestyle habits in your 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond.See More
Start your heart-healthy lifestyle today! Do one easy thing every day to better your overall health. Check out our simple tasks and tips that combine diet improvement and exercise, all sorted by week.
Monday: Drink plenty of calorie-free fluids, like water. Dehydration can slow your metabolism.
Tuesday: Sit on a stability ball while you watch TV; do crunches during commercials.
Wednesday: Keep a food journal. Record everything that you eat today, even if it's just a bite of something or a taste of a recipe you're cooking. You may be surprised to see how much you're eating.
Thursday: Instead of sugary treats, bring fruit or another heart-healthy selection to a work meeting.
Friday: Start your day with a nutritious breakfast that includes whole grains and low-fat protein or dairy.
Saturday: Walk while listening to an audio book. You'll probably walk farther so you can hear more of the story, and you'll look forward to tomorrow's walk.
Sunday: Skip the elevator and opt for the stairs instead all day.
Monday: Take a 10-minute walk to break up your workday.
Tuesday: Kick boring dinners out the door by experimenting with a new healthful recipe.
Thursday: Seek encouragement by finding a friend who is also interested in living healthfully. You can support each other as workout buddies and recipe sharers.
Friday: If you eat at a fast-food restaurant, opt for a kids' meal. The portion sizes and calorie totals are much more reasonable.
Saturday: Avoid the urge to circle the store lot for the closest parking spot; burn extra calories by parking away from the entrance.
Sunday: Get out your calendar and schedule exercise time for the next week.
Monday: Drink a small glass of warm milk before bedtime to help you fall asleep.
Tuesday: Wear a pedometer and strive for 10,000 steps today.
Wednesday: Plan out a walking route that will take you through pretty homes in your neighborhood.
Thursday: Take a couple of minutes to stretch when you wake up in the morning and before you go to bed at night.
Friday: Whether you're in your house, at work, or at a shopping mall, use the restroom that's farthest away. That could mean an extra flight of stairs to help you burn calories.
Saturday: Go to your favorite restaurant's Web site and look up nutrition information for your top menu choices. If the numbers are shocking, pick a few tasty-looking alternatives.
Sunday: Don't skip meals. Skipping a meal can lower your metabolism by 5 percent, enough to gain a pound every month.
Monday: To really encourage walking and other exercise, invest in a good pair of shoes.
Tuesday: Calculate your daily caloric needs. Many good calculators appear online, such as the Mayo Clinic calculator. Go to mayoclinic.com.
Wednesday: Keep small hand weights in your office. Do three sets of eight once during the day.
Thursday: Keep yourself motivated (and accountable) by noting your workouts on a calendar somewhere prominent, such as your kitchen.
Friday: Sample a new nutrient-rich food. Try a healthful packaged product, a new recipe, or a food you've never tasted -- maybe quinoa or edamame.
Saturday: Stay physically active and support causes you believe in by signing up for a charity race or walk.
Sunday: Sit down with a healthy cookbook and plan dinners for the next three nights.