Cardiovascular Disease and Exercise

            Cardiovascular disease is number one killer of women in the United States. Post menopause women have the same risk as men in developing coronary heart disease. Some of the many risk factors correlated with coronary heart disease are high cholesterol, smoking, weight, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Adding exercise to your daily routine has been proven to decrease many of these risk factors.  In a study done in 1986 72,488 women were observed over the course of eight years. The women who participated in vigorous exercise had the largest reduction of risk factors. Women who walked 3 hours or more a week also had a reduction in risk factors. Women who didn’t add physical activity to their life until middle adulthood had lower risk of coronary heart disease than the women who remained sedentary. It is important to develop habits that can attribute to a healthy lifestyle to keep the risk factors for cardiovascular disease to a minimum.

Tips for adding a little bit of exercise into your sedentary lifestyle

  1. Walk/bike to work.
  2. Think about your core. Engage your core while you are sitting or walking.
  3. Try to stand up without holding on to anything.
  4. Try to walk for 30 minutes as many times a week as you can, maybe during a lunch break.
  5. Take the stairs when you can.
  6. Set goals and stick to them (see Kevin’s article on goal setting).
  7. Try to be active doing something you like!
  8. Refrain from distractions; Television, social media, and internet all require us to sit down Try replacing these habits with something that involves movement.
  9. Find a buddy- sometimes finding someone to hold you accountable to walk or exercise works really well. Remember to give each other positive feedback and motivation.
  10.  Check out the latest fitness trends. Trying a variety of things enables you to pick something that you will enjoy doing. Dance classes like Zumba and Oula are becoming very popular.


Department of Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology, Harvard Medical School.

American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology [1988, 158(6 Pt 2):1553-60, 1566-7]

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