A Great New Year's Resolution for Menopausal Women: Walking!

Dorian Martin Health Guide

    Still looking for a New Year’s resolution? Here’s one for you – commit yourself to a walking plan. You’ll thank me as you age.


    Why? Here goes – a new study out of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston followed more than 7,000 women who, on average, were 71 years of age. These women were asked to wear accelerometers that measured movement for approximately a week’s time. The accelerometers measured their activity during waking hours and were set so that active movement had to last at least one minute in order to be recorded.


    The researchers found that older women often are physically inactive for 9.7 hours each day (or 65.6 percent of their waking day). Furthermore, the accelerometer measured an average of 86 sedentary periods during the day. Participants tended to move about nine times each hour, although these at times were short periods of activity. Furthermore, women who were heavier or older often were recorded as having more sedentary time with fewer activity breaks. And that’s important because sedentary behavior is linked to numerous chronic diseases that can really be debilitating – and even fatal – as we get older.

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    So I am guessing that most of the readers of this sharepost aren’t in their 70s yet, but consider the information cautionary because we are all reaching one of life’s crossroads. "You have to mentally transition yourself when you get to the end of taking care of kids or working. You have to change and find other activities," Dr. Yonette Davis, chief of geriatrics at the Brooklyn Hospital Center, told MedlinePlus. "Tell yourself, 'This is a different point in my life. I need to look for other outlets of interest now that my kids no longer need me and I'm finished with my job.' Go out with friends, volunteer, get involved with your church, go back to school. Don't wind yourself all the way down."


    And why walking?  Frankly, doing more of it can help you live longer. Another study out of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory looked at data from 42,000 middle-aged people who were part of the National Walker’s Study. The researchers asked the participants to complete questionnaires about health and lifestyle, including exercise and diet. Death records were then used to track who in the study was still alive about a decade later.


    By the end of the study, almost six percent had died. The researchers’ analysis found that participants who walked more than the lowest recommendation decreased their chance of dying by 33 percent during the 10-year period. Furthermore, participants who met the expectation had an 11-percent lower risk of dying. And researchers found that the people who walked were less likely to die from a stroke, diabetes or heart disease.


    And putting a little oomph into your walk also will benefit you. The New York Times reported on another study out of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory that involved 31,607 women and 7,374 men. The participants were divided into categories based on speed. Group 1’s walk-speed was close to a jog at 13.6 minutes per mile. In comparison, Group 4 walked approximately 17 minutes or more per mile.


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    After comparing the information to the National Death Index, the researchers determined which of the participants had died since joining the study. The cause of death also was recorded. Most of the deaths came among the slowest walkers; in fact, those in Group 4 had about an 18-percent increased risk of dying from any cause than the other walkers. They also were at a higher risk from dying from heart disease and dementia. Therefore, it’s important to try to pursue a faster pace.


    So I look forward to see you on the trails, the track and on the sidewalks. Here's to a great 2014!


    Primary Sources for This Sharepost:


    MedlinePlus. (2013). Older women may spend two-thirds of their day sitting.


    Reynolds, G. (2013). Why a brisk walk is better. New York Times.


    Shiroma, E. J., et al. (2013). Patterns of accelerometer-assessed sedentary behavior in older women. JAMA.


    Williams, P. T. (2013). Dose-response relationship of physical activity to premature and total all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality in walkers. PLOS ONE.

Published On: December 31, 2013