Stay Within a Healthy Weight Range
Being overweight can be very hard on your heart. A bigger body needs an increased blood flow, so your heart enlarges in order to compensate. This can lead to high blood pressure -- a major cause of heart disease -- or congestive heart failure (when the heart's chambers give out due to overexertion). A study by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute showed that the risk of heart failure increases by 34 percent if you're overweight and more than 100 percent if you're obese.
Losing just 5 or 10 pounds can help. Use an online calculator to learn your Body Mass Index, or BMI. You should also get out a tape measure. For men, your risk of heart disease is increased if your waist measures more than 40 inches, while the risk for women increases at more than 35 inches. If you're overweight or obese according to your BMI, or have a larger waist measurement, talk to your doctor about losing weight.