This Is the Worst Thing You're Doing to Your Heart Right Now

You may not even know you're doing it, but it's harming your heart health all the same.

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While your attention may focused elsewhere—the continuing threat of coronavirus and the impact it will have as we move into the fall and winter seasons, in particular—it's important that you don't put your overall physical well-being on the back burner, especially when it comes to taking care of your heart health. Heart disease remains the number one killer of both men and women in the United States, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Even more shocking? Heart disease causes one death every 36 seconds. However, it doesn't need to be so prevalent. If you make a few easy lifestyle changes, your risk of heart disease can lessen enormously. With that, here are the four worst things you are doing to your heart right now and need to stop. And for more on the healthy habits you should keep, check out The Single Best Thing You Can Do for Your Health Right Now.

4
Being overweight

doctor measures waistline of overweight man
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Being overweight can lead to an array of serious health conditions, including heart disease. Yet, about one in three Americans are considered obese, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

"If you're overweight and you lose weight, your risk will be lower than it was before," Nieca Goldberg, MD, medical director of the Women's Heart Program and senior advisor for Women's Health Strategy at NYU Langone Health in New York, previously told Best Life. "Obesity increases heart disease risk by raising levels of bad cholesterol, triglycerides, lowering HDL [good] cholesterol, increasing levels of sugar which can lead to diabetes, and also raising blood pressure." And for more things to look out for when it comes to your well-being, check out These Are the Heart Attack Warning Signs Hiding in Plain Sight.

3
Not eating a balanced diet

woman works at a computer and eats unhealthy food: chips, crackers, candy, waffles, soda
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One of the keys to maintaining a healthy weight—and in turn, a healthy heart—is eating a well-rounded diet. What does that entail? According to Harvard Medical School: "Add fruits and vegetables, whole grains, unsaturated fat, good protein (from beans, nuts, fish, and poultry), and herbs and spices. Subtract processed foods, salt, rapidly digested carbohydrates (from white bread, white rice, potatoes, and the like), red meat, and soda or other sugar-sweetened beverages."

2
Not sleeping

Photo from the top of young girl sitting on a bed, eating dinner and watching television
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Failure to get the right amount of rest each night comes with a number of serious repercussions, including heart disease, type-2 diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure. Yet, one in three adults in the U.S. gets less than seven hours a night—the minimum amount of sleep recommended by the CDC. Do yourself a favor and make sufficient sleep a top priority immediately. And to set the record straight, check out 25 Myths About Sleep That Are Keeping You Up at Night.

1
Living a sedentary lifestyle

Shot of a young woman eating chocolate from a jar while relaxing on the sofa at home
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Being inactive is one of the worst things you can do for your overall health, and it's especially bad for your heart health. According to the World Health Organization, sedentary lifestyles "increase all causes of mortality, double the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity, and increase the risks of colon cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, lipid disorders, depression, and anxiety." That's why it's so important to get the CDC-recommended 150 minutes of exercise a week. Even a brisk walk will make a difference. And for more helpful health information delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

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