As we wrap up yet another year, one goal we always set for the new year is to lead healthier lives. But with never-ending deadlines, family drama, and, well…life, your health tends to drop lower on your list of priorities.

So to increase awareness around building healthier lives, American Heart Association has come up with Life’s Simple 7 — seven tips to help control your risk for heart disease, the number one killer of women. Making a commitment to your heart health has never been easier thanks to these easy steps!

Get active
Make fitness a priority and try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity at least five days per week. This can include your favorite workout class, jogging, or even brisk walking — whatever it is, stay active to keep your heart strong and healthy.

Control cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy substance our bodies use to make cell membranes and some hormones, but when there’s too much bad cholesterol (LDL), it can cause blockages in your arteries, which result in heart disease and stroke. Luckily, there are ways to lower your cholesterol through the foods you eat (think multi-grain products, fatty fishes, fruits, vegetables, avocado, and a handful of nuts!).

Eat better
Eating healthy isn’t always the easiest feat — but it’s essential in maintaining a healthy life. Stick to veggies, fruit, low-fat dairy, fiber-rich whole grains, and lean meats including fish. The easiest way to stay on top of your eating habits is by tracking what you eat with a food diary — it allows you to take a look at what you’ve eaten and how it made you feel.

Manage blood pressure
When you have high blood pressure, your blood flows through your veins with too much force and puts pressure on your arteries, stretching them past their healthy limit and causing microscopic tears. The scar tissue then traps plaque and forms blockages, blood clots, and hardened, weakened arteries. The best way to manage blood pressure is to reduce your sodium intake, get regular physical activity, manage stress, limit alcohol, and avoid tobacco smoke.

Lose weight
If you have too much fat around your waist, you’re at a higher risk for health problems including high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and diabetes. And if you’re overweight or obese, you can reduce your risk for heart disease by successfully losing weight and keeping it off. Calculate your body mass index (BMI) to determine if you need to lose weight. We know, we know…it’s easier said than done — but with enough exercise and a healthy diet, even losing five to ten pounds can produce a dramatic blood pressure reduction.

Reduce blood sugar
Your fasting blood sugar level should be below 100 to be in a healthy range — if not, it could indicate diabetes or pre-diabetes. Fortunately, you can reduce your blood sugar levels by reducing your consumption of simple sugars found in soda, candy, and sugary desserts. Simply replace them with sparkling water and fruits!

Stop smoking
If you smoke, you already know that quitting is the best thing you can do for your health. But we can’t stress enough how much damage smoking has on your entire circulatory system — it increases your risk for coronary heart disease, aneurysms, and blood clots, and hardens your arteries.

What steps are you taking towards prioritizing your health in the New Year? Let us know in the comments below!

Learn more about Life’s Simple 7 here and take action with MyLifeCheck here.

xx, The FabFitFun Team