With so many health tips and pieces of advice floating around, it can sometimes feel confusing to know exactly what you should be aiming for. You know you shouldn’t be eating Big Macs three times a day and pouring salt over everything on your plate, but do you know the exact goals that will help keep you in the optimal physical shape?
The American Heart Association (AHA) has now actually defined “ideal cardiovascular health” with seven simple yet specific measures that have been coined “Life’s Simple 7.” Implementing all seven health factors can dramatically improve quality of life and life span while minimizing the financial burden of ongoing healthcare. Even someone of poor health can move up the ladder to intermediate and even ideal health by gradually achieving Life’s Simple 7.
Lead author Donald M. Lloyd-Jones hopes that these seven guidelines will become the standard of health for young and middle aged adults to encourage preventative measures and significantly improve the overall level of American health.
Health By the Numbers
A large proportion of the Simple 7 include numbers obtained from a visit to your doctor:
- BMI of less than 25 kg/m2
- Total cholesterol of less than 200 mg/dL
- Blood pressure below 120/80 mm Hg
- Fasting blood glucose below 100 mg/dL
BMI, cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood glucose are four of the most important indicators of heart health because they indicate if the body is struggling to maintain its sense of balance. If blood can’t flow easily through the arteries, or if blood glucose is too high, the chances of a heart attack, stroke, and diabetes are much higher.
Health is partially about genetics, but it’s also largely about choices
- Exercise at a moderate level for at least 150 minutes per week, or an intense level for 75 minutes per week.
- Meet four to five of the components of a healthy diet
- Never have smoked, or quit more than one year ago
Exercise, diet, and smoking have a huge and far-reaching impact on the body. All it takes is 25 minutes of moderate exercise a day, trading whole grains and veggies for junk food, and throwing away that last pack of smokes to achieve the final three Simple 7.