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Heart Health

Keep Your Heart Healthy by Maintaining a Healthy Body Weight

When it comes to keeping your heart healthy, maintaining a healthy body weight can help you reach that goal.  As one of Life’s Simple 7, losing those extra pounds and keeping them off reduces your risk for heart attack, stroke, and diabetes, a leading contributor to heart disease. 

Follow these steps to get started on the pathway to an active life and better heart health!

Learn Why It Is Important.

Take Action to Be Healthy.

Know Your Numbers.

Talk with Your Doctor.

Know Your Family Heart History.


Learn Why It Is Important.

We tend to gain weight with age, but more often weight gain is the result of consuming an excess number of calories and not getting enough exercise.  Weight gain can lead to conditions that increase your chances of:

Maintaining a healthy weight has many benefits, including feeling good about yourself and having more energy to enjoy life.  The NIH's Aim for a Healthy Weight will give you the details you need to get started.


Take Action to Be Healthy.

Eat fewer calories than your body needs.

No one diet is the ideal weight loss eating plan for everyone.  A number of diets can help you lose weight.  You may have heard of some of these:

And - you can adapt these plans to fit your cultural and food preferences.


Regardless of whether it calls for low carb or high protein, the key points to remember when choosing a diet are:

Not sure how many calories a day you should be eating?  Visit Calories Needed Each Day (We Can!) You can also use this tool to find out how many calories your body needs each day.


Get 30 minutes of aerobic exercise on most days of the week.

An exercise routine that gets you moving at least 2½ hours – or 150 minutes - each week is a critical piece of your weight loss plan.  That is 30 minutes, 5 days of the week. If you are trying to keep weight off that you have lost, exercise is especially important.  You may need to exercise 200-300 minutes each week to keep those pounds from slowly coming back.

Remember, exercise does not have to be in 30 minute blocks.  Walking counts. 10 minutes of walking before an appointment, 15 minutes at lunch, and 5 minutes around the office or house in the afternoon counts.


Learn ways to change unhealthy behaviors.

Participating in a medically supervised weight loss program 2 or 3 times a month for at least 6 months can get you on the right track.  Research shows that working with a trained professional such as a registered dietitian or behavioral psychologist can help people stick to their weight loss program.  A trained professional can help you establish new behaviors such as:


Check Your Insurance Coverage.

Under the Affordable Care Act, more healthcare plans are now covering obesity screening and counseling.  If you are on Medicare, you can receive face-to-face behavioral counseling for 6 months with a healthcare professional such as a:

And – if you lose at least 6.6 pounds in the first 6 months – Medicare will cover an additional 6 months of counseling.  For more information, please visit Your Guide to Medicare's Preventive Services.


Know Your Numbers.

A good way to know if your weight is considered "healthy" is to calculate your body mass index – also called “BMI”.  BMI numbers 25 and higher are associated with:

Health care providers sometimes also use waist and hip measurements to determine a person's excess body fat.  In general, men are considered overweight if their waist is greater than 40 inches.  Women are considered overweight if their waist is over 35 inches.

If you know your weight and height, you can compute your BMI at CDC's Assessing Your Weight website.


Talk With Your Doctor.

Your doctor will talk with you about weight loss treatment if your BMI is:


Weight Loss Treatment

Weight loss treatment is a combination of 3 approaches:

Weight loss surgery may be a treatment option for you to consider if:

The type of surgery procedure you choose should be based on such factors as:


Talk with your doctor about which treatment options are best for you.


Know Your Family Heart History.

Knowledge is one of your strongest weapons against heart disease.  Learn as much as you can about healthy living to keep your heart strong.

And because diseases of the heart and blood vessels can run in families, knowing your family history can provide important information about your health risks.  Talk to your family about their heart health history.  To learn how to create a heart health family tree, please visit Know Your Family Heart Health History.  

By talking to your doctor about your family heart health history, together you can look for ways to lower your risk of heart disease.


Points to Remember:


Hope Through Research - You Can Be Part of the Answer!

Many research studies are underway to help us learn about heart disease. Would you like to find out more about being part of this exciting research? Please visit the following links:



Aim for a Healthy Weight (NHLBI)

Life’s Simple Seven Success Plan


For more information:

Go to the Heart Health health topic, where you can:

This article is a NetWellness exclusive.

Last Reviewed: Jun 24, 2014