Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of men and women in the United States, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But you don’t have to join the statistic. Instead, you can take ownership of your health by loving your heart. By making just a few changes to your daily routine and food choices, you can improve your heart health.

Several risk factors of heart disease can be controlled. Talk to your doctor about keeping your blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes under control. Quit smoking if you’re a smoker.

Physical activity is also important. The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as walking or swimming, most days. Here are a few tips to jump start your routine:

  • Wear comfortable clothing
  • Start slowly and build up to the level of activity your doctor recommends
  • Exercise at the same time each day so it becomes part of your routine
  • Ask family and friends to join you
  • Track your progress in an exercise journal
  • Join an exercise group or health club (with your doctor’s permission)
  • Listen to music
  • Don’t exercise immediately after a meal if it is too hot or if you don’t feel up to it

Another way to love your heart is with a heart-healthy diet. Start with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and opt for lean meats, such as pork loin, poultry or rump roast. Look for 100-percent whole grain breads with 2 grams of fiber per serving. Select canned goods with no added salt or sugar and poultry or tuna packed in water instead of oil. Choose fat-free or reduced-fat cheeses and milk products and salad dressings with less than 250 milligrams of salt per ounce. And skip frozen food with added sauces, oils, butter or breading.

Provided by Peoples Health,