Stay healthy by watching these life-saving numbers.A little bit of math could make a big difference in your health. Here, the stats you need to know.
Exercise minutes: 150
The World Health Organization recommends that adults complete at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week. Whether you split those minutes into short, 10-minute bursts or longer sweat sessions, hitting that target will lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and colon and breast cancers.
Related: 12 Ways To Naturally Lower Your Blood Pressure
Blood sugar: A1C less than 5.7%
The percent of sugar in your bloodstream indicates if you're heading towards diabetes - which increases your risk of heart disease, says Tracy Stevens, MD, a New York cardiologist and spokesperson for the American Heart Association. Your doctor will likely check this at an annual physical. Normal blood sugar results are an A1C (a test that measures your average blood sugar for the past few months) of less than 5.7 percent and fasting blood glucose (which measures your blood sugar after not eating for at least 8 hours) of less than 100.
Think you're not at risk? The American Diabetes Association reports that 79 million people are pre-diabetic. But, here's the good news: Losing 7 percent of your body weight and exercising for 150 minutes a week can lower a pre-diabetic's risk of developing type 2 diabetes by a whopping 58 percent.
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Blood pressure: 130/80 mm Hg or less
Your blood pressure is a measure of how hard blood is pushing against the walls of your arteries as it circulates through your body. Ideally, your blood pressure should be less than 130/80 mm Hg; a too-high number can lead to weakened and damaged blood vessels, putting stress on your heart and increasing your risk of heart failure. "Everyone should have a blood pressure cuff in their home," says Stevens. "It's affordable and gives you so much information." Keep your blood pressure under control with a healthy diet and plenty of exercise.
Target Heart Rate: 85 to 145 beats per minute
This is the pulse rate that signals whether you're exercising hard enough to promote heart fitness. A healthy range for a 40-year-old woman is 85 to 145 beats per minute. Historically, Target Heart Range (THR) has been based on a unisex formula, but now researchers believe that number may be too high for women. THR decreases with age - we've done the math to help you find your female-friendly target.
Cholesterol: below 100 mg/dL for LDL, above 50 mg/dL for HDL
The American Heart Association's recommended ranges for women's cholesterol levels are below 100 mg/dL for LDL (the "bad" cholesterol), above 50 mg/dL for HDL (the "good" cholesterol), and below 100 mg/dL for triglycerides. Too-high LDL can lead to plaque buildup in arteries, says Stevens, which can contribute to heart attack or stroke. Improve your LDL through exercise and diet, specifically lowering your intake of saturated fats, which are found in fatty cuts of meat and full-fat dairy products. And avoid trans fats, which lurk in margarine and in many ready-made baked goods.
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Weight: BMI up to 25
One way to find out if you're at a healthy weight is to calculate your BMI. A body mass index over 25 can raise your blood pressure and risk of diabetes. But losing just 10 pounds can help lower your risk of heart disease. Pay attention to your waist size, too. You can have a normal BMI and still carry excess fat in your midsection, which may put your heart at risk. The AHA recommends that women aim for a waistline smaller than 35 inches.
Daily Steps: 10,000
If formal exercise routine intimidates you, try increasing your daily activity. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park your car at the back of the lot, or get off the train one stop earlier and walk the extra blocks. An easy way to track movement is to wear a pedometer and aim for 10,000 steps each day.
-Marnie SomanMore from Good Housekeeping:
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