Women On The Move

WOMEN on the Move


I came across a study that again highlights the benefits of lifestyle changes to improve our risk factors for heart disease. It’s called the Women On the Move through Activity and Nutrition (WOMAN) study.


As we know, the perimenopausal period is a time when weight can creep up on us. Another study I found mentions that postmenopausal women are one of the groups in which weight gain is increasing most quickly! We know what happens. Falling estrogen levels affect where our fat gets distributedand it’s not in keeping with the hourglass shape many of us strive for. But, beyond appearance, this midlife, mid-body pack-on-the-pounds isn’t good for our health.


In the WOMAN study, 508 women ages 52 to 60 taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for at least 2 years were placed in one of two groups: a lifestyle change group or a health education group. The intent was to see if cardiovascular disease could be minimized through changes in diet and exercise. After 18 months, the researchers found that women who made the lifestyle changes lost an average of 17 pounds, and about 4” from their waist size. I bet they were happy! But they also had significant improvements in their cholesterol, glucose, insulin, and other important blood levels. Women who stopped HRT had better LDL levels than those who remained on hormone therapy.


These women ate a lower-calorie diet that was low in cholesterol and total, saturated, and trans fats, and high in fiber and high-volume, nutrient-dense foods. They also worked up to 150 minutes (think 5 30-minute sessions a week) of physical activity. 


If you knew making these kinds of changes would work, would you make them? Wouldn’t it be worth it?  Knowing how studies are conducted, I’m sure these women had some encouragement and support over the 18 months to stay on track. But, what if you made a plan, and found a buddy to partner with to get to your goals? These women lost about a pound a month, which is very doable if that’s what you want to do.  And, of course, integrating exercise means making it a part of your life. But exercise isn’t just about burning calories; it helps your cholesterol levels to move  in the right direction, too.


I’m a wellness coach who helps people to make changes, but you can coach yourself, with a bit of help. The American Heart Association has a free 12 week program called Choose to Move, which is available by phone or mail. You can call 1-888-My HEART (1-888-694-3278) or log on to www.americanheart.org/choosetomove to sign on. You go girl!




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