46 The Medical Directory .HHSLQJ <RXU +HDUW +HDOWK\ You can prevent heart disease by following a heart-healthy lifestyle. Here are strategies to help you protect your heart. DON’T SMOKE OR USE TOBACCO. One of the best things you can do for your heart is to stop smoking or using smokeless tobacco. Even if you’re not a smoker, be sure to avoid secondhand smoke. Chemicals in tobacco can damage the heart and blood vessels. Cigarette smoke reduces the oxygen in the blood, which increases blood pres- sure and heart rate because the heart has to work harder to supply enough oxygen to the body and brain. There’s good news though. The risk of heart disease starts to drop in as little as a day after quitting. After a year without cigarettes, the risk of heart disease drops to about half that of a smoker. No matter how long or how much you smoked, you’ll start reaping rewards as soon as you quit. GET MOVING: AIM FOR AT LEAST 30TO 60 MINUTES OF ACTIVITY DAILY Regular, daily physical activity can lower the risk of heart disease. Physical activity helps control your weight. It also reduces the chances of developing other conditions that may put a strain on the heart, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes. If you haven’t been active for a while, you may need to slowly work your way up to these goals, but in general, you should do aim for at least: - 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic exercise, such as walking at a brisk pace - 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity, such as running - Two or more strength training sessions a week Even shorter bouts of activity offer heart benefits, so if you can’t meet those guidelines, don’t give up. Just five minutes of moving can help, and activities such as gardening, housekeeping, taking the stairs and walking the dog all count toward your total. You don’t have to exercise strenu- ously to achieve benefits, but you can see bigger benefits by increasing the intensity, duration and frequency of your workouts. EAT A HEART-HEALTHY DIET A healthy diet can help protect the heart, improve blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. A heart-healthy eating plan includes: - Vegetables and fruits - Beans or other legumes - Lean meats and fish - Low-fat or fat-free dairy foods - Whole grains - Healthy fats, such as olive oil