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Healthy for Life: Fitness Needs for Every Decade of a Woman’s Life

Get moving: Fitness for women at any stage of life


McGill has made other small changes in her daily routine. Instead of lying in bed a few extra minutes, she is up at 6:30 a.m. so she can walk for 30 minutes before heading to work. She takes the steps more than the elevator, and she walks to the store instead of driving. "I keep a comfortable pair of shoes in my car and in my office so I can walk more often," she says.

"Being part of the program helps," says McGill. "I have the support of the others and I don't want to let anyone down."

More than just getting fit

McGill has found an unexpected benefit in her increased activity level. "It's a wonderful stress reliever," she says. "When I'm working really hard, exercising becomes an emotional release. I think it's going to become addictive."

That is not the only benefit she has discovered. "What I'm learning," McGill says, "is that it's important to do something for myself. I've always been available for my husband, my children, and my job. But I'm finally discovering that I can give myself the gift of being healthy and active."

As McGill learned, your health and fitness needs change as you move through the decades. More importantly, no matter what your age is, says Jennifer H. Mieres, MD, FACC, FAHA, exercising and staying fit should be a part of your daily routine. Mieres is director of nuclear cardiology and an assistant professor at New York University School of Medicine. She is also a medical spokeswoman for "Choose to Move."

"Staying fit reduces the risk factors of heart disease," Mieres explains. By exercising regularly, you can also control cholesterol, weight, blood pressure, and stress.

According to the National Women's Health Information Center, exercise also:

  • lowers your risk of getting colon cancer and diabetes
  • keeps your bones, muscles, and joints healthy
  • reduces anxiety and depression and improves your mood
  • protects against falling and bone fractures in older adults
  • protects against breast cancer
  • aids in controlling joint swelling and pain from arthritis
  • increases energy
  • helps you sleep better
  • helps you look better


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