It is American Heart Month and the bad news is that heart disease is still the number one cause of death in our country...the good news is that we can do something about it. We certainly cannot change our age or family history, but we can make better lifestyle choices.

You put your heart into everything you do, so it is important t to keep it healthy. After all your heart does for you, don’t you think it deserves a little love? Here are five healthy habits to keep your heart in tip-top shape.

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    1

    Get Moving

    Get moving. Aim for 30 minutes of blood-pumping exercise each day. Whether you go for a long run or take a few short walks, any activity that gets your heart beating faster is good. For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity.

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    2

    Butt Out

    Quitting smoking might be one of the toughest things you’ll ever do, but you’re worth the effort. If you smoke, stop.  A year after your last cigarette, you’ll have cut your risk of heart disease in half.  Check out NJ Quitline for resources to help you quit.

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    Eat Smart

    Eat smart. You’ve heard that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, right? Well, it holds true for women, too. A healthy diet is the key to a healthy heart. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meat, fish. Avoid processed and packaged foods. Drink plenty of water, and limit alcohol.

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    4

    Waist Not Want Not

    Maintain a healthy weight. Keeping your weight in a healthy range will lower your risk for heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and other problems. Being overweight puts a strain on your heart and makes it hard for you to be more active. In addition to weight, pay attention to waist size.  If most of your fat is around your waist rather than at your hips, you're at a higher risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. This risk goes up with a waist size that is greater than 35 inches for women or greater than 40 inches for men.

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    5

    Know Your Numbers

    Check your numbers. Having high blood pressure, cholesterol or glucose levels raises your risk for heart problems. See your doctor for regular checkups, so you can keep track of your levels and keep them in a healthy range. Keep your lab numbers in a file or take a photo of them so you can remember. Another good idea - get your check up around your birthday so you don't forget.