Our choices today can determine where we stand tomorrow, and when it comes to our health, the same principle rings true. In fact, according to a study published in the journal Circulation, people who take good care of themselves in their 20s can decrease their chances of developing cardiovascular disease when they reach middle age.

Using data from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in (Young) Adults (CARDIA), researchers concentrated on the five lifestyle factors (body mass index, alcohol intake, smoking habits, a healthy diet, and regular exercise) of over 3,000 participants. They learned that 44 percent of the participants with an average age of 24 were assessed as having a low risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Twenty years later, the percentage of participants who still had low cardiovascular disease risk whittled down to 24.5 percent.

This downward spiral comes as no surprise. "Many middle-aged adults develop unhealthy diets, gain weight and aren’t as physically active. Such lifestyles, of course, lead to high blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes and elevated cardiovascular risk," explains study author Kiang Liu. Still, there is good news for us all because 60 percent of those who did maintain a healthy lifestyle kept their low-risk profile.

Researchers claim this study is the first to link healthy habits in young adults to lower cardiovascular disease risk in middle-aged persons. In fact, they have reason to believe that switching to a healthier lifestyle early on can even overcome the power of genetics. "In this study, even people with a family history of heart problems were able to have a low cardiovascular disease risk profile if they started living a healthy lifestyle when they were young," Liu reports.

With this new information, perhaps we can start becoming conscious of our choices. Following the five lifestyle factors the study is anchored on, we have no excuse not to at least try taking care of ourselves.


For tips on healthy living, check out these articles:

(Photo by Denis Todorut via Flickr Creative Commons)

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