A recent study suggests that it is possible to reduce one's heart disease risk through diet and exercise in as little as 3 weeks.

In the study reported by the American Heart Association, 11 obese men were put on a 21-day regimen of low-fat, high-fiber foods and 45 to 60 minutes of brisk walking daily. By the end of the study, blood pressure was reduced significantly and total cholesterol decreased by 19 percent. In addition, insulin levels decreased by 46 percent and blood glucose levels fell by 7 percent.

Interesting note: These risks were reduced even though the men had lost only a few pounds after the 3 weeks. This shows that even though weight loss can be (and should be) gradual, the unseen benefits of exercise and a modified diet -- reduction in heart-disease risks -- can happen quickly.