As a doctor, I’m well aware of two key facts: One, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and in the world, according to the World Health Organization; and two, cardiovascular disease is preventable.

Seize the day

We all lead busy lives; many of us are overcommitted or live in conditions that are less conducive to being physically active. But the time to adopt a heart-healthier lifestyle is now. It is never too late to begin. Even small changes can make a big difference if we build on them over time.

Sitting is the new smoking.

Research has long shown that higher levels of physical activity help prevent many chronic illnesses, including cardiovascular disease, or improve the health of patients with those conditions. For instance, an NHLBI-funded study is one among several studies that has demonstrated that getting the recommended amount of exercise each week can significantly lower your blood pressure.

Stand up for health

Sedentary behavior can shorten your life. Many people are saying: Sitting is the new smoking. For good heart heath, adults should, as a rule, sit less and move more. That’s a healthy lifestyle change necessary for many of us. If you’re able to, get up from your desk, take the stairs and park farther away from your destination.

In addition to just sitting less — we all need to be physically active for two and a half hours each week. That means breaking a sweat or getting your heart beating faster and being a bit out of breath for 150 minutes per week — that's about 20 minutes every day or so. That should be your goal.

Start small

But when you are just starting out, remember, anything is better than nothing. Begin today. If finding time in your busy day is tough, you can break it into smaller chunks of time. It all adds up.

Take two 15 minute walks per day. Or park far enough away from work that you get in a 10 minute brisk walk into the office, take a 10 minute fast walk during lunch, add a final 10 minute walk back to your car at the end of the work day and you’ve just completed a 30 minute workout. These small steps can go a long way to becoming and staying active — that’s the heart truth.

This February, I took the pledge to #MoveWithHeart. I encourage you to do the same and to challenge family and friends to join us.