If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to be more active this year, your heart will appreciate that.

February is Heart Health awareness month and you may be surprised by some alarming statistics regarding cardiovascular disease. Did you know that heart disease is the number one killer in America and affects an overwhelming 48 percent of the population?

To help us better understand how to decrease the risk of heart disease, the American Heart Association created Life’s Simple 7, a comprehensive list of seven ways to adjust your lifestyle for better heart health.

First up is blood pressure management. Making sure your blood pressure is in a healthy range, typically 120/80 or lower, is key. Blood pressure is responsible for moving the blood through the body and back to the heart. When your blood pressure becomes too high (hypertension), it places too much stress on the arteries and can cause damage to the heart and other important organs.

Second is controlling your cholesterol levels. By maintaining healthy levels, you decrease the risk of developing plaque in your arteries, which is a contributing factor to heart disease and stroke.

The third recommended change is reducing your sugar intake. High levels of blood sugar can lead to obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and can damage your vital organs, including your heart.

The fourth advised lifestyle change is exercising. Not just any exercise, but get moving as much as you possibly can. Recent studies show that, while any amount of exercise is better than none, the more you move, the better for your heart. Furthermore, moderate to vigorous exercise is more effective than light activity.

Number five on the list promotes better eating. Swap out refined carbohydrates and fried foods with lots of leafy green vegetables, fruits, good fats, and lean proteins.

Number six goes hand in hand with four and five – maintain a healthy weight. Being obese leads to a slew of health problems. Additionally, when you shed the extra pounds, your blood pressure and cholesterol levels may see an improvement as well.

Lastly, number seven is quit smoking. Smoking is proven to be detrimental to your health and increase your risk of heart disease.

Putting these lifestyle changes into practice can benefit not only your heart, but your overall health. Head over to Heart.org to learn more.