Fitness and wellness

Heart disease is the number one killer of women age 35 and older, and inactivity nearly doubles a person’s risk for developing heart disease.

One of the safest and best ways to reduce the risk of heart disease and improve heart health is through aerobic exercise such as walking, bicycling or swimming. Studies have shown that even 30 minutes per day of moderate exercise can reduce the risk of heart disease by 30-50%.

If you’re currently overweight and/or don’t regularly exercise, the idea of getting active can seem overwhelming, and the goal of improved heart health through fitness can seem unattainable. We understand and are here to help. Let us help you start small, set manageable goals and be on your way to better health and a better future for yourself and all those who love you.

Call us at (414) 649-5767 or stop into the Center today to learn more about reducing the risk of heart disease – and improving your overall wellbeing – through physical activity.

Getting Started

To make your workouts as low-risk as possible, use the following guidelines:

  1. You should talk to your doctor prior to beginning an exercise program if any of the following apply to you:
    • You have heart disease or have 2 or more risk factors for developing heart disease.
    • You are over the age of 45 years and currently inactive
    • You have diabetes
    • You are taking blood pressure medication
    • Your body mass index is 30 or higher
    • You are pregnant
    • You have a medical condition that may affect your ability to exercise such as arthritis or chronic back pain
  2. Build up intensity and duration gradually:
    Aim to work up to 20-45 minutes or aerobic exercise most days of the week. If you are just beginning to exercise, start with a 10-minute workout and gradually add two minutes a week until you reach your goal.

    Aim for workout intensity within your “target heart rate zone”. Calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. Your target heart rate is 60-75% of your maximum heart rate. This formula cannot be utilized if you are taking certain cardiac medications.

  3. Warm-up and cool-down: A gradual building of intensity during a warm up allows the cardiovascular system to adjust to the increasing demands of exercise, and a gradual decline in exercise intensity helps the cardiovascular system adjust back to resting level.
  4. Include strength training and flexibility exercises in your exercise routine. Perform strength training exercises 2-3 times a week for a minimum of 20 minutes. Muscle tissue is more metabolically active than fat tissue (i.e., it will burn more calories). By maintaining a higher amount of muscle tissue, women will maintain higher metabolic rates and maintain their optimal body weights.
  5. Drink lots of water before, during and after working out. By the time you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated.
  6. Listen to your body: If you experience chest pain or pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, dizziness or joint pain report these symptoms to your physician. While these symptoms are often caused by something other than heart disease, it is best to be safe and check them out.

10 Easy Steps to Get More Physically Active

  1. Get active with friends. Exercising together will provide you with support and encouragement to stick with exercising when you get tired or discouraged.
  2. Walk every day. Start small with a five-minute walk and gradually build up to at least 30 minutes or more each day.
  3. When watching television, get up and walk around the house, up and down the stairs or march in place during commercials.
  4. Take the steps instead of the elevator whenever you have to go three flights or less.
  5. Claim the furthest parking space at work or the mall as your own.
  6. When talking on the telephone, get up and walk around.
  7. Dance when listening to music.
  8. Include active activities such as hiking walking, golfing, bicycling, skating, or swimming in your weekend plans.
  9. Spend quality time with your kids by signing up for a class to learn a new skill, kayaking, rock climbing, tennis, etc.
  10. Try several kinds of exercise and find ones that you really enjoy


  1. Lee I-M, Rexrode KM, Cook NR, Manson JE, Buring JE. Physical Activity and Coronary Heart Disease in Women: Is “No Pain, No Gain” Passe? Journal of American Medical Association.2001;285:1447-1454.
  2. Thompson PD, Buchner D, Pina IL, et al. Exercise and Physical Activity in the Prevention and Treatment of Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease: A Statement from the council on Clinical Cardiology and the Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism. Circulation 2003;107:3109-3116
  3. Diabetes Prevention Program Research G. Reduction in the Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes with Lifestyle Intervention or Metformin. New England Journal of Medicine. 2002;346:393-403
  4. Kraus WE, Houmard JA, Duscha BD, et al. Effects of the Amount and Intensity or Exercise on Plasma Lipoproteins. New England Journal of Medicine. 2002;347:1483-1492.
  5. Physical Activity and Health. A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports; 1995