A recent study found that one’s fitness level at midlife was a good predictor if one would go on to develop heart disease, or not.

While at first glance these results seem like a no-brainer of course being physically fit and having a good fitness level in your 40s reduces your risk of heart disease in your 50s or 60s they are a good reminder that the best way to prevent your body from breaking down as you age is to take good care of it along the way.

But what does that really mean? In addition to eating a low-calorie, high-quality diet filled with nutritious foods, it also means being active on an everyday and ongoing basis to maintain a good fitness level, and taking care of oneself emotionally, too.

I do worry somewhat that people who maybe haven’t taken such great care of themselves and find that at midlife they aren’t so fit could take this study to mean that it’s too late for them to avoid heart disease and other health problems associated with obesity.

Nothing could be further from the truth! It is never too late to do something to improve your immediate and long-term health, no matter how long or badly it’s been neglected. In fact, it’s never too late, even when you already have heart disease or some other serious illness.

Time and time again I have seen patients who are seriously overweight and who haven’t exercised in decades turn things around and go from being 50+ pounds overweight and mostly sedentary to slimming down and participating in marathons within a year!

And the same can be true for you, too, if you seize the day and make today the last day you neglect your physical or emotional health. Instead, make the conscious decision to take charge of your health and fitness level, no matter where you are at. Make today the last day you live like the average AmericanĀ and start living like the uncommonly healthy American.

Look for ways to be more active, not less active. Choose the nutritious food on the menu, rather than the high-fat, high-calorie one. Make eating out a special event rather than an everyday one. Park in the furthest spot from the store entrance instead of the closest one. Say no to adding another thing to-do to the schedule and enjoy a bubble bath or some other relaxing time instead. Cope with stress by talking to a friend or walking around the block instead of with a trip through the drive thru, etc.

Doing so will provide your best chance of enjoying a lifetime of good health, a high quality life vs. one filled with illness and suffering, and a higher fitness level. It may mean doing things differently than you have been, and doing things differently than most people do, but the end results will be well worth it, I assure you!