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Preventing Stroke: Healthy Living

A couple sitting on the grass after a walk.

Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

You can help prevent stroke by making healthy lifestyle choices. A healthy lifestyle includes the following:

  • Eating a healthy diet.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Getting enough exercise.
  • Not smoking.
  • Limiting alcohol use.

Healthy Diet

Choosing healthy meal and snack options can help you avoid stroke and its complications. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Eating foods low in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol and high in fiber can help prevent high cholesterol. Limiting salt (sodium) in your diet also can lower your blood pressure.

For more information on healthy diet and nutrition, see CDC’s Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Program Web site.

Healthy Weight

Being overweight or obese increases your risk for stroke. To determine whether your weight is in a healthy range, doctors often calculate your body mass index (BMI). If you know your weight and height, you can calculate your BMI at CDC’s Assessing Your Weight Web site. Doctors sometimes also use waist and hip measurements to measure excess body fat.

Physical Activity

Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your cholesterol and blood pressure levels. For adults, the Surgeon General recommends 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, like brisk walking or bicycling, every week. Children and adolescents should get 1 hour of physical activity every day.

For more information, see CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Web site.

No Smoking

Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for stroke. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for stroke. Your doctor can suggest ways to help you quit.

For more information about tobacco use and quitting, see CDC’s Smoking & Tobacco Use Web site.

Limited Alcohol

Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which can raise your blood pressure. Men should have no more than 2 drinks per day, and women only 1. For more information, visit CDC’s Alcohol and Public Health Web site.

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