If you're female, you may have even more reason to get active. Although most pre-menopausal women's hearts are somewhat protected by the effects of female hormones like estrogen, having diabetes places women on a level playing field with men in terms of their heart disease risk. Sedentary women have twice the chance of dying from heart disease than women who exercise, just as women who smoke cigarettes double their chances of dying from heart disease. Women may live longer than men, but not necessarily better, and elderly women who have not been physically active experience more disability in their activities of daily living than their more active counterparts. But, the few studies on heart health and exercise that have included women show that they may benefit even more than men, that the risk of death from heart disease is reduced even further in women who are physically fit.

If you've been inactive, then now is the time to start moving more. More and more seniors are proving every day that they are not too old to exercise, and the older you are, the more you need regular exercise. Most apparently healthy people of any age can safely engage in low to moderate levels of physical activity (e.g., moderate walking, gardening, yard work) without seeing their doctors first. As a precaution, if you are middle-aged or older, currently sedentary, at high risk for heart disease or already have it, or have other health concerns, seek medical advice before you start a more intense physical activity. Also, if you've been having any symptoms that may be indicative of heart disease, such as shortness of breath, undiagnosed pain in your chest, jaw, arm, upper back, or lower legs, see your doctor first and have an exercise stress test to be on the safe side.

Finally, don't try to do too much too fast; start exercising at an intensity that is on the easy side, and increase it gradually, if/when you desire to. Pick activities that are fun, that suit your needs, and that you can do year-round so that you can make them a permanent part of your lifestyle. Wear comfortable clothing and footwear, and choose a well-lighted, safe place with a smooth, soft surface to be active. Take time to warm up and cool down when doing more intense activities. Get up and get moving, and a healthy heart will be your reward!

For more information on all of the mental benefits of physical activity, please consult my new book, The 7 Step Diabetes Fitness Plan: Living Well and Being Fit with Diabetes, No Matter Your Weight. Check my Web site (www.shericolberg.com) for more details or to order a copy today.

Read Sheri's bio here.

Read more of Sheri Colberg-Och's columns.

NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition. 

 

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Last Modified Date: July 01, 2013

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