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This Is Good News

This was a pleasant surprise in the news today:

Even in middle age, adopting a healthy lifestyle can lower the risk for heart disease and premature death within years of changing habits, researchers reported on Thursday.

Middle-aged adults who began eating five or more fruits and vegetables every day, exercising for at least 2 1/2 hours a week, keeping weight down and not smoking decreased their risk of heart disease by 35 percent and risk of death by 40 percent in the four years after they started.

"The adopters of a healthy lifestyle basically caught up. Within four years, their mortality rate and rate of heart attacks matched the people who had been doing these behaviors all along," said Dr. Dana King at the Medical University of South Carolina, who led the research.

Excellent! It should be noted, however, that it's not easy:

When [study participants] had picked up all four habits, they enjoyed a sharp decline in heart disease risk and in death from any cause.

It took all four -- having just three of the healthy habits yielded no heart benefits and a more modest decrease in overall risk of death.

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