Michelle Fernie started running several years ago. Health officials would like to see more Americans following her example.
"It's just kind of a lifestyle change, I feel," she said. "It's just kind of part of my life now."
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 200,000 deaths from heart disease and stroke could be avoided each year. More than half of these preventable deaths were people under 65.
"We had big reductions in people over 65, but much smaller reductions in that group of 55-to-65-year-olds. So, once you hit 40 or 50, your risk high blood pressure and the harms from smoking are really magnified and without Medicare it's harder for people to get the care they need to prevent heart attacks," said Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the CDC.
The CDC says doctors need to encourage healthy habits during every patient visit. Habits like getting more exercise, eating well, maintaining a healthy weight and quitting smoking.
The report also shows men have a higher risk of preventable death. That risk cuts across all races and ethnic groups, but is highest for black men.
"Rates are about twice as high in African-Americans and in fact heart disease causes more disparities in health outcomes than any other single cause," Frieden said.
Fernie plans to keep up her regimen of exercising 4 or 5 times a week.
"I am definitely a lot more in shape. I was always thin, but I never actually had muscle tone," Fernie said.
She says she now calls herself a running addict-- an addiction she's proud of.
The report also shows people in Southern states have the greatest risk of dying from preventable death.
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