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It’s Never Too Late to Get Heart Healthier

Why it is never too late to get heart healthier and how to get started today.

It’s Never Too Late to Get Heart Healthier

If you think you can’t can turn your life around and become heart healthier because, “It’s just too late,” consider this: Navy surgeon Paul Spangler took up running at age 67 and completed his 14th marathon at age 92, and Katherine Pelton, at age 86, came in first in a 200-meter butterfly, winning her 358th top-10 title since age 71.

It’s never too late to get heart-healthier, even if you started your adult life as a fast-food-munching couch potato! A study evaluated 5,000 folks over a 20-year period and found you actually can REVERSE deterioration of your cardiovascular system -- if you change your behavior.

When the study started, only 10% of participants were sticking with all five of the most important heart-protecting behaviors: maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, using alcohol in moderation, getting regular physical activity and eating a nutritious diet.

Twenty years later, 25% of them had adopted at least one of those health-promoting behaviors -- and were measurably heart-healthier (the calcification and thickening of their artery walls decreased). With the addition of each healthful habit, their cardiovascular health improved.

Want to start today to improve your heart health? Banish the Five Food Felons (added sugar and syrups, refined grains, and heart-stopping saturated and trans fats); aim for walking 10,000 steps a day (10 minutes of aerobic activity is equivalent to 100 steps); start trying to quit if you smoke; limit alcohol intake; and aim for a healthy weight. A healthy heart is a weight off your shoulders.

Medically reviewed in May 2019.

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