Seize this midlife point as a mile marker for better heart health.
“This midlife trauma is not a cruel joke set upon us by an all-powerful god,” writes author Lisa Arnold in her book, For Sanity’s Sake: Devotions for the Temporarily Insane, Otherwise Known as the Menopausal Woman. She is addressing the mental, physical and spiritual upheaval that can accompany hormonal remodeling. “It is, like so many other trials in life, a training session.”
A study from the American Heart Association urges women to use this time, this training session as it were, to our advantage, as a way to lay the groundwork for good health outcomes later in life. For this week’s Healthy Habit, let’s take a look at their recommendations.
- To offset the metabolic changes that often accompany menopause, up the exercise. The AHA recommends at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week, which sounds like a lot, until you realize it’s just a half an hour, at least five days a week. Exercising in middle age helps boost blood flow to decrease the risk of heart attacks, stroke and cognitive impairment as you age. You want to go for wide arteries and keep the buildup of fatty plaque down, says the AHA.
- If you smoke, seek out a doctor’s help for a cessation program. According to the AHA, the biggest risk to artery health is smoking.
- Have fun experimenting with lower-sodium, lower-sugar foods, and watch the trans fats. Recipes like nachos made with slices of sweet potatoes instead of chips makes the kitchen newly zesty again.
Even if you’ve never had cardiovascular issues, the AHA says, if you are approaching or in menopause, this is the perfect time to adopt healthier behaviors and reduce your risk of health woes later in life.