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February 6, 2007 > Ladies, Make It Your Choice to Have a Healthy Heart

Ladies, Make It Your Choice to Have a Healthy Heart

A strong heart is the foundation for overall health. At one time, heart disease was mostly considered a man's problem, but heart disease has become the number one cause of death among American women. According to the National Institutes of Health, a person who lives with heart disease can experience disabilities and a significantly decreased quality of life. Many women don't realize or acknowledge that they are at risk for heart disease.

Exercise and good heart health go hand in hand, and Washington Hospital has begun a new heart-health exercise program designed for women called Ladies Choice. You are never too old or too young to start taking care of your heart.

"The Ladies Choice program is for healthy women," says Phyllis Fiscella, R.N., Noninvasive Cardiac Manager for Washington Hospital. "It is open to all Washington Hospital employees and to non-employees who live in our community."

Ladies Choice is open between Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Participants drop in when they can and work with certified personal trainer, Fran Joslyn, R.N., who is also a licensed psychologist. The focus of Ladies Choice is on aerobic exercise, strength, flexibility and relaxation, which all promote overall health. Workout sessions include aerobic endurance training, strength training on a weight bench and with hand weights, stretching, sit ups and other mat exercises. Joslyn teaches proper techniques for effective and safe exercising. The relaxation exercise component of the workout is designed to help with stress management.

The Ladies Choice facility at Washington West, 2500 Mowry Avenue, 2nd Floor, Fremont is equipped with large endurance training equipment, weights, a bar, a mirror and mats to facilitate all areas of exercise for heart health. Ladies Choice is not a medically supervised program, but clearance from a physician is necessary in order to participate.

"Clearance from a physician is different than a referral," Fiscella explains, once again emphasizing that Ladies Choice is for healthy women. Anyone with heart problems or concerns should speak to a physician since they may need a referral to Washington Hospital's medically supervised Cardiac Rehabilitation program.

There are several genetic and environmental factors that could determine whether a woman will have heart disease, but prevention is the best way to give yourself a head start on heart health. If you start exercising and maintain a healthy weight, you will have improved heart function, lower your blood pressure and lower blood cholesterol. A heart in an overweight body needs to work harder, which may lead to heart problems.

A person who participates in a cardiac exercise program will notice improvement in their general health, and especially in endurance, strength, blood pressure and weight loss. A physically fit person will often see improvement in the quality of their sleep, causing them to feel better rested and more energetic throughout the waking hours.

There is great scheduling flexibility for the woman choosing to exercise with the Ladies Choice program. Fiscella recommends that a person serious about heart health should come both Tuesday and Thursday every week. If a woman wants to exercise up to five times a week, Ladies Choice participants are welcome to come Monday, Wednesday or Friday during any of the regular cardiac rehab sessions. Those classes are throughout the day at 8:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 2:30 p.m., 4:00 p.m. and 5:15 p.m.

The Ladies Choice program is designed for women who can benefit from the support of a personal trainer and from other women working to achieve the same healthy goal. "It's for women who want to exercise in a group setting," Fiscella says.

The Ladies Choice program costs $25 a month for Washington Hospital employees and $8.50 per visit for non-employees. For more information, call 510-494-7022.

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Learn More about Your Heart

You are invited to attend the next free "Lunch and Learn" education series on Tuesday, February 13 at the Washington Women's Center. Bring your lunch and come join us for a short topic on women's health. These brief lectures will take place at 11:15 a.m. and 12 noon:

"Ladies Choice Program"
Tuesday, February 13

"Heart to Heart"
Tuesday, February 22

An afternoon encore of the Lunch and Learn presentations will take place at 2 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. on the same day.

Women's Center Conference Room
Washington West
2500 Mowry Ave., Suite 150

To register, call (800) 963-7070 or contact Kathy Hesser, R.N., (510) 608-1356 for more information.
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