2005-05-12 / Medical

Heart Association Urging Women To Take Part In Physical Activity Programs

Between juggling work, family and other demands, many busy women find it hard to make healthy habits part of their daily routines — although 76 percent of respondents in a recent American Heart Association survey said physical activity is important. Only 28 percent said they get the recommended amount of activity each week.

Mothers and daughters can sign up together to help encourage each other throughout the program. Joan Lunden, television journalist, author and mother of seven children, understands the challenge many mothers face in juggling it all and has signed up for the Choose to Move program.

“As a journalist, I reported on health stories and certainly knew what I needed to do to be more fit and lower my risk of heart disease, but I wasn’t incorporating it into my life,” said Lunden. “The more I learned about healthy eating and staying fit, the better my life became.”

Choose to Move is a free two week program to help women increase physical activity and build healthy habits to lower their risk for heart disease and stroke. It’s part of the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women movement to raise awareness that cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of women and to help women take steps to prevent heart disease and stroke.

By increasing their physical activity level, women can reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke and lead a longer, healthier life. In addition, reducing calorie intake by 250 calories a day can increase weight loss by 0.5 pounds per week.

“Women know that physical activity is a key component to a healthier lifestyle, but our survey findings indicate that they struggle to incorporate it into their daily lives,” said Rita F. Redberg, M.D., M.Sc., F.A.H.A., F.A.C.C., professor of medicine in the cardiology division at the University of California-San Francisco National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health and an American Heart Association volunteer.

“Choose to Move offers simple ways to get women back on track,” she said. “That includes materials like an easy-to-follow handbook to increase physical activity, nutrition tips and recipes, weight management tips, newsletters and relevant facts on heart disease and stroke.”

Survey respondents said the most common barrier to adopting healthy eating habits is the need to plan ahead. Choose To Move helps eliminate barriers by offering simple nutrition tips and recipes to help participants eat healthy every day. Developed by the renowned Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas, the program is available online or by mail. The handbook is free. In addition, for a limited time, women who enroll will receive the AHA’s free Healthy Heart Walking CD, which features a simple walking program.

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