There’s no doubt that exercise is essential for a strong heart. One 2018 study published in the journal Circulation found that physical activity can even counteract a genetic risk for heart disease. The researchers looked at 500,000 men and women in the U.K. and found that those at the highest risk of heart troubles who had high levels of physical fitness had a 49% lower risk of coronary heart disease. While the AHA recommends 150 minutes of moderate activity a week, Gianos urges 30 to 60 minutes every day. Overall the goal is to move daily, but don’t feel you have to run 20 miles a day. “Extreme exercise has not been noted to be protective,” Gianos says, “and it may add some harm.”
When doing meal prep, flip your thinking. “Build meals around veggies, so they’re never an afterthought,” Sass advises. Instead of having the typical pasta primavera that is a mound of spaghetti with a few shavings of carrots and a couple of broccoli florets on top, reverse it so that you fill your plate with steamed or sautéed veggies over a modest portion of pasta—or better yet, farro or quinoa. “It may feel less satisfying at first,” Sass concedes, “but the rewards, like more energy, sustainable weight loss and better digestive health, can drastically improve your everyday quality of life.”

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