Physical inactivity is one of several major risk factors for heart disease that you can do something about. The others are:
Smoking - People who smoke are up to six times more likely to suffer a heart attack than nonsmokers, and the risk increases with the number of cigarettes smoked each day. Quitting will greatly reduce your risk.
High Blood Pressure - Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and congestive heart failure. Your health care provider can check your blood pressure by means of a simple test using an inflatable arm cuff. Blood pressure often can be entirely controlled by getting regular physical activity, losing excess weight, cutting down on alcohol, and changing eating habits, such as using less salt and other forms of sodium. For some people, medication is also needed.
High Blood Cholesterol - High blood cholesterol can lead to the buildup of plaque in your arteries, which raises the risk of a heart attack. Starting at age 20, everyone should have their cholesterol levels checked by means of a blood test called a "lipoprotein profile." You can lower high blood cholesterol by getting regular physical activity, eating less saturated fat and trans fat, and managing your weight. In some cases, medication is also needed.
Overweight - If you are overweight or obese, you are more likely to develop heart disease even if you have no other risk factors. Ask your doctor to help you determine whether you need to lose weight for your health. The good news: Losing just 5-10 percent of your current weight will help to lower your risk of heart disease and many other medical disorders.
Diabetes greatly increases your risk for heart disease, stroke, and other serious diseases. Ask your doctor whether you should be tested for it. Many people at high risk for diabetes can prevent or delay the disease by reducing calories as part of a healthy eating plan, and by becoming more physically active. If you already have diabetes, work closely with your doctor to manage it.