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Postmenopausal Women Should Exercise to Reduce Risk of Heart Disease

by Guest Blogger on May 14, 2012

This is a guest post by Lisa Larkin of Lisa Larkin, M.D. & Associates.

Did you know that blood pressure during exercise can predict future cardiovascular events better than resting blood pressure alone? It’s true. People with higher exercise blood pressures are more likely to experience heart attack or stroke than those with lower exercise blood pressures. Armed with this information, I think you know what I’m going to say next. That’s right…make exercise a part of your daily routine!

But I haven’t exercised in years

Just because you have a history of being a couch potato doesn’t mean you can’t start reaping the health benefits of exercise. In fact, a recent clinical trial involving 464 sedentary, postmenopausal, overweight and obese women found moderate-intensity exercise — a brisk 30-minute walk most days a week — had substantial blood pressure benefits. If that sounds like too much, consider taking a brisk walk just a few days a week, as that also has a positive impact on exercise blood pressure.

Exercise isn’t just good for your heart

And if the health benefits of lowering your exercise blood pressure aren’t enough to get you exercising, think about this — regular exercise also benefits bones, helps regulate weight and creates a better sense of well-being. In addition, women who are physically inactive are more likely to suffer from obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, chronic back pain, insomnia, poor circulation, weak muscles, and depression.

What exercises are right for me?

Always talk with your doctor before starting an exercise program, particularly if you have been sedentary. I usually recommend that my postmenopausal patients focus on the following activities:

• aerobic conditioning for heart health and calorie-burning (walking, swimming and low impact aerobics)
• light strength training for muscles, bones and metabolism (dumbbells, weight machines and exercise bands)
• stretching for flexible muscles (stretching, yoga and Pilates)

Here are a few online apps to help you keep your exercise program on track:

Fit Day

Fit Day is a free diet and weight-loss journal to help you create a goal, track food, log activity and see progress.

http://www.fitday.com/

Lose it!

Stay on track each day with Loose it!, which allows you to record your food , exercise and stay within your budget.

http://www.loseit.com/

My Fitness Pal

Use the My Fitness Pal tracking site to log and track your meals quickly and easily.

http://www.myfitnesspal.com/

Spark People
Spark People is a free, customized weight-loss plan that provides you with the tools, resources and support you need to reach your weight loss goals.

http://www.sparkpeople.com/

Lisa Larkin, MD, NCMP, is a nationally certified menopause provider and internal medicine physician in Cincinnati. She is the owner of Lisa Larkin, M.D. & Associates and medical director.

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