1. Lose excess weight. Obesity is a risk factor for many diseases, including heart disease, cancer and diabetes. The Harvard study recommends maintaining a body mass index (BMI) of no more than 21.
2. Control blood pressure. If you're unable to control high blood pressure (hypertension) through decreasing dietary fat and sodium, and increasing physical activity, talk to your doctor about the available medication.
3. Reduce high cholesterol. If the level of cholesterol in your bloodstream is putting you at an increased risk of developing heart disease, you need to do something about it. Start by cutting transfats (still found in some baked goods) from your diet, and limiting saturated fats (found in some meats and cheese) that raise levels of the "bad" LDL cholesterol.
4. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Mounting evidence points to the ability of these foods to lower the risk of colon cancer and heart disease, among other disorders. Try to get at least 600 grams every day (that's at least 3 cups) by adding a salad to your evening meal, serving bite-sized veggies for snacks and adding more of them to your soups and stews.
5. Be more active. You should be physically active at least two to five hours a week. The experts call for moderate exercise so you don't have to become a mountain climber or a marathon runner.
6. Quit smoking. No doubt you've tried many times before, but it's worth another shot for the sake of your health. Have you given the gum, patch or other smoking cessation aids a go? Turn to your family, friends and family doctor for support.
7. Ease up on drinking. In small doses, alcohol may be beneficial to your health, but more than one or two drinks a day can increase your risk of heart disease and cancer. Try to eliminate or at least cut down on your consumption.
8. Don't do drugs. Using illicit drugs significantly increases your risk of dying young. If you think you have a problem, tell your doctor who can point you in the right direction to start on a new, healthier path.
9. Practice safe sex. With any new relationship, be sure to use a condom and get a test for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.
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