Exercise and Diet

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A Challenge to Women: Exercise for your Health

Women do not need to jog to reduce their chances of heart disease. A survey of approximately 72,000 women between the ages of 40 -65 published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that women who exercised vigorously at least 90 minutes a week or walk briskly (20 minute mile) for a minimum of 3 hours a week, had a 30%-40% reduction of risk in heart disease. The Nurse' Health Study at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, has followed 121,000 women to assess risk factor of chronic diseases. It showed that the more exercise people did, the greater the reduction of risk of heart disease. The study also demonstrated a lower risk of coronary events for women who started exercising at a later age compared to women who remained inactive. Despite this promising information, exercise is a challenge to many. Choose an activity that you enjoy. Examples of low to moderate activities include stair climbing, gardening, yard work, housework and home exercise. More vigorous activities, also known as aerobic, include swimming, bicycling, dancing and walking. Consult a healthcare provider before starting any exercise program.


1. Go slow: build up your activity level gradually. As you become more fit, you can increase duration and intensity of activity.

2. Listen to your body: At first, a certain amount of stiffness is normal. However if it persists, stop for several days to avoid further injury.

3. Pay attention to warning signals: Sudden dizziness, cold sweats, paleness, fainting or pain or pressure in your upper body just after exercising are some of the warning signals. If you notice any of these, stop your activity and consult a physician.

4. Keep at it: Set small, short-term goals for yourself. Remember that the goal is to get the benefits you are seeking and enjoy yourself. If you don't enjoy it, you make not stick with the program.

Source: Heart Disease and Women, Be Physically Active, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, NIH Publication 94-3656