Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death around the world - and many risk factors for these diseases are within your control. On World Heart Day (September 29), make a commitment to reducing your risk. To help you get started, the medical experts and staff at Englewood Community Hospital recommend these small changes you can start working on right now to reduce your odds of getting heart disease.

  • Eat one less prepackaged or processed foods meal per week.
  • Once a day, when you want to reach for a juice or soda, choose water instead.
  • During the work or school week, eat fruit instead of dessert.
  • Exercise one more time than you already do each week.
  • Every other day, take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Stretch all your muscles for 15 minutes in the mornings before you start your day.
  • If you're a smoker, smoke one less cigarette a day (eventually, quit completely).

Once you're successful with these changes, increase the frequency of your good choices. Keep setting new goals for yourself, and ask family and friends to join in.

Remember, before you begin new health regimens or make changes to your health habits, talk to your doctor about what's right for you. Not everyone will get as much benefit from the same sets of activities, and some types of activities may not work with your particular health history. However, don't lose hope - your doctor can help you make a plan to get your heart in shape.