Take It All Off, Part 4
Just when you least expect it, great advice pops up.
"The Association of Weight and Health Promotion Practices of Middle Aged Women" is the erudite title of the doctoral dissertation of Ann Townsend, DrNP, MSN, APRN-BC, RN and director of Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center Outpatient Heart Failure Center in Camden, NJ. She also happens to be the very first graduate of Drexel University's Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program. (She'll be featured with other recent grads in an upcoming issue of ADVANCE for Nurses, PA/NJ/DE edition.)
In chatting about the degree program, we touched on her dissertation and I asked her what her research revealed. What gems were uncovered? "I learned a lot about obesity and how it affects women. I found exercise is one of the most underutilized tools we have," said Townsend. "Women yo-yo and focus on their weight so much, but the activity piece is so essential. As caregivers, I don't think we stress that enough."
So I asked, "What is optimum when it comes to exercise?" I was thinking she might tell me how many minutes a day to walk, or how many crunches to do, or how often to lift weights. But that's where she surprised me by offering a completely different perspective: "‘Optimum' is the moment a woman starts."
"Anything a person starts to do; that's optimum. Just start. I found 75 percent of the women in my study didn't do anything at all. So just beginning to take those first few steps is most important of all," said Townsend.
Rest for the Weary
She also stressed the importance of teaming exercise with relaxation. "Activity must be balanced with rest," she noted. "I found that stress is a big issue for women, who so often handle multiple roles. They develop a sleep problem. And lack of sleep is tied to obesity... it interferes with the hormonal balance of your circadian rhythm."
So, while calorie control for weight reduction is important, "that isn't always the path," said Townsend. "People are always looking for one answer, but there isn't just one. Exercise is an important component and it is absolutely underutilized."
Boiled down to a quick tip: Get moving.