If you want to boost heart health and reduce cardiovascular risks, the American Heart Association recommends a lifestyle that features a healthy diet, exercise, not smoking, and having a healthy percentage of body fat. The reason for stressing these characteristics is their positive effect on critical biomarkers – a lifestyle that incorporates these characteristics lower cholesterol, blood pressure and fasting blood sugar levels.
A group of researchers conducted a study to get a detailed understanding of the effects of these healthy lifestyle characteristics on particular biomarkers and to estimate their prevalence among US adults. They analyzed data from the 2003-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults. The understanding was that favorable biomarker measurements would translate into lower risk of developing chronic diseases. Here are the interesting findings of the study along with important recommendations to improve heart health:
- All four healthy lifestyle habits were found only among very few US adults – just around 3%.
- About 11% of the US adults had no healthy lifestyle characteristics.
- About 71.5 % of the adults don’t smoke. The study recommends that those who do, get assistance to kick the habit.
- Nearly half of the adults (46.5 %) were found to be physically active. The recommendation is that all adults try to get at least 30-60 minutes of activity each day.
- Eating healthy is an important consideration for improved heart health and about 37.9 % of the adults had healthy dietary habits. The study recommends that those who don’t get an honest opinion about their status and make the necessary changes in their diet plan. Lowering the intake of processed foods and including more natural fruits and vegetables should be the first step.
- Only a minority (9.6 %) of the adults have a normal percentage of the body fat. So it is important that people follow a healthy life style to reduce fat and bring it down to the normal level.
On determining the impact of each lifestyle characteristic on specific biomarkers, it was found that those with at least one or two healthy lifestyle characteristics had positive biomarkers levels. So it is quite obvious that those with three or four healthy lifestyle characteristics have more favorable biomarker levels. These findings should be an encouragement to people to switch to a healthy lifestyle to enhance wellbeing and increase longevity.