The best way to strengthen your heart is to exercise.
Gulf Today Report
Women with cardiovascular problems need flexible options that fit their busy schedules.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women worldwide; in 2015 it accounted for one-third of all female deaths.
“Women tend to prioritise others before themselves. The realities of modern life require women to address multiple family, community, social and work-related demands. As a result, many feel they do not have time for cardiac rehabilitation," said study senior author Jennifer Reed from the University of Ottawa in Canada.
Following a cardiac event such as a heart attack, patients are advised to attend cardiac rehabilitation for exercise training, lifestyle education, smoking cessation and psychological support.
According to the study, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, these programmes improve fitness, quality of life, mental health and survival, and reduce the risk of further events.
However, women are more likely to drop out (35 per cent of women quit versus 29 per cent of men), the researchers said.
Some women view cardiac rehabilitation as a "men's club".
Women do not enjoy the physical activity offered and it does not fit their needs, some find it too physically demanding, while others want it to be more challenging.
Women frequently lack social support and feel guilty for deserting their family, the study said.
The researchers identified ways to modernise cardiac rehabilitation and make it more attractive to women such as zumba, soccer, group walking, tai chi, qigong, technology-based balance exercises (e.g. Wii Fit), dancing, and nordic walking, they said.
Older women may benefit from exercises to help them perform daily activities (e.g. dressing, reaching a cupboard, moving in and out of a chair or bed) and reduce their risk of falls.
"Women's high participation in group exercise classes in their neighbourhood suggests that they enjoy the sense of community. Multi-site cardiac rehabilitation programmes can help to resolve transportation issues and bring a sense of belonging," Reed said.
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