Healthy Lifestyle Trumps Genetics

If you think that your weight and health is predetermined by your family genetics, think again. Two large studies from Northwestern Medicine have found that a healthy lifestyle is the most important factor on cardiovascular health. Hooray!

In the first study, researchers found that the majority of people who adopted healthy lifestyle behaviors in young adulthood maintained a low cardiovascular risk profile as they aged into their 30s. A high cardiovascular risk profile can result in a higher incidence of heart attack and high blood pressure, among other health problems.

The second study looked at three generations of families to determine if you could inherit cardiovascular health through a combination of genetic factors and the effects of a shared environment, such as meals typically served in a family. The study found that only a small proportion of cardiovascular health is usually passed from parent to child and that the majority of cardiovascular health is impacted by lifestyle and healthy behaviors.

So what are these awesome healthy behaviors? Researchers found that the five most important behaviors for improving cardiovascular health are not smoking, low or no alcohol intake, weight control, physical activity and a healthy diet.

Researchers say that its important to get this news out to parents and children to help improve cardiovascular health in young adults. According to the studies, only 8 percent of the United States population has ideal levels of all the risk factors for cardiovascular health at middle age. And this isn’t the first time research has shown how important childhood behaviors are to health in later years.

Imagine how that could change if we all had healthier behaviors when we were younger. How are you keeping your cardiovascular system healthy? What behavior could you change to make it even stronger?

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