Walking and running are great ways to get regular physical activity. Not only does walking improve circulation, but it can also stop the loss of bone mass for those with osteoporosis. Bottom line: adding movement in your life makes you feel better. A simple walk around your neighborhood is enough to get your blood pumping and muscles working.

Brisk walking can be part of the solution for menopause issues you may be facing. Many women have difficulty in keeping off weight gain during menopause. Even more alarming, the hormonal changes of menopause bring an increased risk of heart disease. The menopause years often bring changes in mood and energy, including the highest rate of depression of any age group. The good news is that studies say moderately intense exercise can help you battle these problems.

A study of middle-aged women found that those who logged more than 6,000 steps per day had a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and smaller waistlines. The women in the study were asked to wear a pedometer for seven days to record their steps. The overall average steps per day were just over 5,000. In the “inactive” group the average number was a very low 3,472, and those women were 61.8 percent of the total number. The smaller active group averaged 9,056 steps per day (31.9 percent of the total women in the study). The results were adjusted for age, menopause status, smoking and hormone therapy.

This is another piece of evidence that a goal of 10,000 steps per day can reduce health risks and obesity. A simple pedometer or fitness monitor that is fun and interactive can help motivate women to move more throughout the day.

Exercise Two to Three Times a Week for Heart Health at Midlife

A British study of over 1 million women followed for nine years found that exercising two to three times per week reduced the risk of heart disease, stroke, and blood clots by 20 percent compared to inactive women. Walking and other moderately-intense exercises such as cycling and gardening were associated with reduced risks.

Brisk Walks Boost Mood Better During Menopause

It is a common question as to what kind of exercise is better for boosting your mood and energy level. Do you need to run to feel a runner’s high? A study reported at the North American Menopause Society meeting in Washington D.C., 2011, found that moderate-intensity exercise such as brisk walking was a better mood-enhancer for midlife women than vigorous exercise such as running.

The women who exercised at moderate intensity were allowed to choose the pace they wanted on a treadmill, but had their heart rates monitored to ensure they were walking fast enough to be at a moderate-intensity level. The same women also did a bout of vigorous-intensity exercise. They were given psychological tests for mood before, during, and after exercise.

For boosting mood, making them smile, and giving them a feeling of increased energy, moderate intensity beat vigorous intensity significantly. In fact, the women who most needed to get into a regular exercise habit because of inactivity or weight responded far less positively to vigorous exercise. As a result, the conclusion of the researchers was that moderate intensity exercise should be promoted to women, especially those who are in peri-menopause and post menopause. They also concluded that women should be encouraged to enjoy physical activities that were personally meaningful and they found enjoyable.