Heart Health: Choose to Move for a Healthy Heart

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Choose to Move for a Healthy Heart -- with Rita Redberg, MD, MSc and Joan Lunden

By Joan Lunden
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Live Events Transcript
Event Date: Monday, June 13, 2005

Heart disease is a leading killer of women. But there are things you can do to reduce your risk. Joan Lunden, an award-winning television journalist, is teaming up with cardiologist Rita F. Redberg, MD, to get out the word about the American Heart Association's "Choose to Move" program for women. They joined us on June 13, 2005 to chat about what you can do to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.

If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

MODERATOR: Welcome to WebMD Live Joan, Dr. Redberg. Thank you for joining us today.

LUNDEN: It's a pleasure.

REDBERG: Thank you, it's my pleasure.

MODERATOR: Please tell us about the American Heart Association program.

LUNDEN: "Choose to Move" is a program that's trying to increase awareness of women that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in this country -- nearly half a million women die each year. When you really think about it, that is about one death a minute.

I think that we have all become savvy to how important exercise and healthy eating is in order to live healthy lives and longer lives. But the problem is that not enough of us have started incorporating it into our lives. The American Heart Association did a survey and they found that about 76% of women said, "I get it, I understand, I know I have to do it." But only 28% actually said that they were incorporating any significant amount of activity into their lives.

I know that even myself, as a reporter who has dealt with these kinds of surveys and these kinds of reports over the years -- for a long time I was hearing it and maybe paying lip service to it. It took me a long time before I kind of turned that corner and embraced how important this was in the fact that it was going to increase my life span and increase my energy level.

It's not just a matter of fitting into a smaller size pants, it's understanding that you're going to be able to run after your kids as they get older and be able to still get up out of a chair and live a healthy life when you get into your later years. That's why I jumped on the band wagon here to try to get the word out to American women.

MODERATOR: We hear that heart disease and stroke are the No. 1 and No. 3 killers of American women, yet many of us don't pay as much attention to our heart health as we should. Why do you think that is?

REDBERG: One reason could be that on average women are about ten years older than men when they get heart disease. For many years until really the last decade, heart disease was largely considered a man's disease. I think when you don't see heart disease as a personal health threat you are less likely to take preventive action. We really learned a lot in the last ten years about how heart disease is the leading cause of death in women and as important, that is largely preventable, or at least the onset can be delayed.

There is great data that shows us that women that are active and that continue to be active will not just live longer, but will have a better quality of life. They are able to do more things, to keep their physical faculties, and actually keep their mental faculties and show slower decline in cognitive function; the things that can occur with aging are slowed with regular physical activity. That's what "Choose to Move" tries to help women with -- incorporating exercise.

LUNDEN: I think for a lot of women -- all women -- we're juggling a lot of balls these days. Just getting started is sometimes the biggest obstacle. You think about it, you talk about it, you read about it, but getting going is what we're really out there right now to try to get women to kind of sign on to that idea, to embrace that idea.

"Choose to Move" is a free program; it's a 12-week program, and you get a handbook. It's easy to join -- you can call 888-MYHEART or if you are on a computer, you can log on to www.americanheart.org/choosetomove and sign up.

I think what it does is the program kind of helps hold your hand a little bit. It's your cheerleader and it gives you a lot of different ideas of ways to incorporate physical activity in your life.

It's not just the idea of purely exercise. I found that one of the secrets is not just to exercise for exercise, but to incorporate playtime or fun time. Think about what you liked as a child. I looked at my life; I loved horse back riding, tennis and swimming so I started incorporating some of those things back into my adult life. I found girlfriends who would go do things with me. I started getting my husband to do these things with me. I think a lot of women will find that if they try to get their family involved, get your husband involved, it puts playtime back into your relationship. It puts competition, which is fun sometimes, into getting back on the tennis court or back on a racquetball court or going out and throwing a ball around in the backyard with your kids.

There are many ways: When you go to the mall, don't look for the closest place to park. In fact, look for one of the farthest places and get a little walking in. Our lives have become such that we just don't walk or climb stairs. There are wonderful opportunities in all of our lives, just on a daily basis, to walk up stairs or walk a little bit. It's not just a matter of finding the time to go to the gym. This program gives practical ways for women who say, "I just don't have time."

This program gives them great ideas, and then of course, it also gives ideas about stress reduction, time management and nutritional tips because this obviously is very much married to the idea of adopting a healthy diet.

REDBERG: I think Joan made some really important points. Exercise or physical activity has to be something that you truly enjoy. For it to benefit you, it doesn't have to be a big change in your lifestyle. It can be just as Joan said: walking up steps a few minutes every day, playing a game of tennis, or gardening. But it should be something that you enjoy so that you're going to continue to do it. Any great lifestyle that you maintain for just a few months is not going to have an overall effect on your lifetime health.

Quick GuideHeart Disease: Symptoms, Signs, and Causes

Heart Disease: Symptoms, Signs, and Causes

So if it's something you like to do and it becomes part of your every day or weekly routine, it will make a big difference even if it's just a small change in how much you're doing from what you're doing now, to incorporating a little bit more.

MODERATOR: What do you see as the biggest problems women face when it comes to taking care of ourselves?

LUNDEN: Time. Time management.

I think it's also an attitude that is part of this female psyche, which is that we are caretakers by nature and we tend to caretake everybody else in our lives: our children, our spouses, our relatives, our parents, our bosses. But we tend to end up at the very bottom of our to-do list. And yet, if we take care of ourselves -- it took me a long time to figure this out, but if we're healthier and we are more fit and we are exercising so that we are managing our stress and that we are increasing our energy level -- we are better mothers, better friends, we're better partners. You're just much more efficient, have more patience and a better attitude about life every day when you are fit and healthy.

I know from having three kids and having gained weight with each one, that it's the last 15 pounds that you don't take off. And after three kids -- three times 15 is 45 any way you add it up. I found myself almost 50 pounds overweight, I wasn't exercising and I wasn't eating properly.

It's funny, it was really a member of the American Heart Association that came on "Good Morning America" one day to give our viewers a test to rate their risk of cardiovascular disease. I listened to the questions and all of a sudden realized that I flunked the test. That's what really did it for me, that's when I said, "I want to live longer, I want to run around and ski and play tennis and do all those things with my children when they get to be older -- so I have to start taking responsibility for my own health." I really found that this completely changed my life.

Every woman out there listening today or every guy that has a wife, a loved one, a sister, a mom -- it's never too late to start this. Whether you're a young woman trying to figure out how to fit it all in, whether you're in your 50s or your 70s, it's important that you get out and do an appropriate amount of exercise on a daily basis. Depending on how old you are and how physically active you have been, start slow. Dr. Redberg will tell you that you want to be sure that you do this properly, but you want to work up to try to get 30 minutes of exercise in each day. It's really not that hard once you get going. And once you do get going, you feel so much better that then you're not willing to let go of it.

REDBERG: Absolutely. I absolutely agree with you, Joan, because what women have the hardest time with is making time for themselves. Traditionally women are taking care of, just like Joan said, everyone in the family -- the children, the parents, the spouse. Then it's hard to find time for yourself. Women have a struggle with being able to put away time for themselves without feeling guilty that they are not taking care of something else that they need to be taking care of.

That's where "Choose to Move" is really helpful in helping women to be able to make time for themselves so that they can feel good and really to understand, just as Joan said, that you can't be there for other people unless you're taking good care of yourself.

MODERATOR: Joan, you got a wake up call and responded. What can we do to carve out time for ourselves? What did you find worked for you to find that 30 minutes each day?

LUNDEN: First of all, I educated myself. I started to really look into it because I always thought of it as a man's disease and it's not. More women die of heart disease and more women die of stroke than men. You think, "I don't have any, I think I feel fine therefore there's nothing wrong" when in fact, most of those who die suddenly of coronary heart disease didn't have any symptoms. So once you start to understand that, then the thing to do is to start making small changes.

I educated myself about nutrition and started shopping differently. If you have a lot of food in your house that's not good, you will eat it. That's just the way it is. I started really changing the way I bought food, which of course meant that this was a great change for my whole family and my children benefited from it.

We have to plan out meals. Not planning ahead is probably one of the biggest mistakes we make. If you think about your meals throughout the week, you plan for some heart-healthy meals. But understand that as you take the fat and the salt out of your meals, you need to put back in flavor. That was a big mistake I made and I almost had mutiny in my house because nobody wanted to eat what I was making. Then I started learning to use fruits and vegetables and seasonings and low-sodium salts and spices.

I also learned that when I come home from the store with my groceries -- a nutritionist and one of my fitness trainers helped me with this -- I have to cut up the fruits and vegetables. She told me that if you have take it out of a bag -- prepare it and put it in containers because that way you will eat it. If you put a cantaloupe in a refrigerator, you might take it out at the end of the week when it's rotten and throw it away, but if you cut it up and have it in some containers where you can open up the refrigerator and see it, then you tend to eat it -- and I find this really to be the case.

Snacking. I don't know about any of you, but when you don't plan ahead, you snack on salty, fattening things. You take a candy bar or a bunch of potato chips when you could be taking fruit or a handful of roasted almonds. You can make your own trail mix and mix together lots of raisins or dried cranberries with nuts and healthy things. When you have that, then that's what you will snack on and that's what you will give your children to snack on.

It's when you're out of time, you want something fast and your will power is down, that's when you make mistakes, and those mistakes add up over time.

MEMBER QUESTION: I'm a type one diabetic and was told that I am at increased risk for heart disease due to the diabetes. Is this program good for diabetics too?

REDBERG: Type 1 diabetes -- that usually means an insulin requiring diabetic. Certainly there is some specific advice that I'm sure your doctor and diabetes counselor has given to you, but the nutritional advice in "Choose to Move," while not specifically aimed at persons with diabetes, is certainly appropriate in terms of the physical activity advice still applies to persons with diabetes.

We know that diabetics will also get the benefit of increased physical activity. There are of course special considerations for people with diabetes, especially insulin dependent, because you need to understand how to monitor and change your insulin use with increased physical activity.

The principles of a heart-healthy diet and increasing physical activity being good for your heart health is appropriate for persons with diabetes. It is something I would talk to your doctor about as well.

MEMBER QUESTION: As I head out of my 40s and into my 50s, I'm much more health conscious. Is this common for women and to what can we attribute the midlife focus on health and well being?

LUNDEN: The doctor probably sees women all the time and hears everybody's stories, but I can say as a woman who is now in my 50s, that I think that we have, like teenagers, the feeling like nothing can ever happen to us. You're a teenager, then you go away to college and get the "freshman 15". Then you get into your 20s and your metabolism slows down and you start realizing that you can't eat the way you used to. When you hit the 30s, then you're so busy taking care of everyone else in your life that there's always the excuse that you don't have time. In the 40s I think you start wanting to make sure that you're going to live longer.

Quick GuideHeart Disease: Symptoms, Signs, and Causes

Heart Disease: Symptoms, Signs, and Causes

Over the last 15-20 years we have had this explosion of information in America about fitness and health and a lot of people have changed their ways. But I think that now with convenience becoming kind of an obsession of Americans -- and part of this is everybody running so fast and never having time -- we tend to buy foods that are filled with things that are not good for us. We tend to eat out more often and it seems to be the way of restaurants to want to try to serve you more, they think that that's giving you more "bang for your buck" when it really isn't.

The portion control is completely distorted in this country. When you sit down at a restaurant, you tend to have this sense of, "Gee, I should eat everything that they prepared for me," where we would be much better off if we were at home, preparing fresh foods, knowing what went into those meals, and eating smaller portions. I think even at home we tend to serve more than we should these days because of the fact that everyone's idea of what a portion size is out of control.

So I just think that as women get to be into their 40s and their 50s, they start deciding that they have to get serious about all of this. I know that I'm probably healthier and more fit and probably have a lower cholesterol level today than I did at 35.

REDBERG: I think it is true that as people get older, we become more aware of the risks of heart disease, as well as other diseases. Most diseases -- cancer, heart disease -- do become more common as we get older and we tend to be more health conscious when we're facing something that seems like a more real risk.

It's important for us to not just to have our own habits, but to try to influence our children, family and friends, and it is never too late. The 40s or 50s is a great age for women if they are not already aware of heart healthy food choices -- as Joan was just discussing -- and the importance of physical activity. It's a great age to start, and not too late to start in the 60s and 70s. We start slower if we're starting physical activity programs at that age, but they are still beneficial even in the over-65-year-old age group.

LUNDEN: A big reason, besides the fact that the closer you get to the later years of your life the more you think about how you want to prolong them, but also you probably don't have children in the house who you're cooking child-friendly foods for and who you're taking care of and you have more time to devote to yourself and to take time out to be able to go and join an exercise class or join a yoga class.

I remember back to when I first started exercising and Spencer Christian, the weatherman on "Good Morning America" -- who is very health conscious -- went with me the first couple of times. I was on a bike and said, "I hate this." He said, "Then get off and get on something else and find something that you like to do. You're never going to do what you don't like to do. That's really part of the secret of it -- finding different things that you enjoy." So I really recommend that women go and try a yoga class and then try a Pilates class and then try a dance or step class and find which ones are for you.

Some women will find that they want to work out with a trainer and be one-on-one. Other people will find they want the energy of a class with a lot of people -- there's a lot of camaraderie and a lot of fun involved in those classes. I like to combine them -- you get a lot more cardio out of those fun dance classes and you get a lot of strength training, which is also vitally important, out of weight training and working with a trainer or going to a gym. I also found that it was easier in the beginning when I teamed up with someone whereas today, I understand it a lot better and I'm fine exercising on my own.

In the beginning, if you have not exercised for a long time particularly, it really is a good idea to go and join a gym or team up with a friend who is proficient at it so that you're doing your sit-ups properly and that you're just doing all of your exercises properly. A lot of people will get on a treadmill but they are not actually working at a rate that is beneficial to the heart. You need a little bit of expert advice so that when you do work out, you're doing it properly, you're not going to hurt yourself, and you're getting the cardio benefit.

REDBERG: Ideally I think that's great if you can consult with someone. "Choose to Move" can still help women to try to pick some kind of physical activity that they can work into their daily lives. As Joan said, everyone is different -- some people like to work out alone, some people find it really keeps them motivated if they know there's someone waiting on the corner to go for a walk in the park -- whatever works for you. Try a few different things.

What you like may change over time, just like lots of our interests change over time, but it should be something consistent and something that you enjoy that becomes part of your routine.

LUNDEN: It's kind of that feeling of being the only person and being alone when I start something, when of course there's thousands of people, tens of thousands out there that need to do the same thing and are just starting, just like you. I think that is really where joining up with a program like this is helpful.

What I really liked about "Choose to Move" is that it had basic, honest, everyday helpful kinds of ideas that we can all incorporate, no matter what our lifestyle. It had all of this just great basic information about nutrition as well as exercise. It's all about educating ourselves, and that is one of the most important things in order to be able to start any kind of healthy exercise or healthy eating program. That's really the basis of it.

MODERATOR: Joan mentioned some of the fun things she does to move. Dr. Redberg, what do you find fun to do when you choose to move? How much exercise do we need each day to make a difference?


"Put yourself on your own to-do list and get [exercise] in early if possible."

REDBERG: The recommendation for movement is 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most days of the week. That doesn't have to be 30 minutes at one time it can be just three 10-minute sessions and moderate intensity physical activity would be a brisk walk. Having said that, if you can only do ten minutes or 20 minutes, it's still worth doing some physical activity rather than not doing anything in the day. If you have the time and inclination to do an hour of physical activity, there is data that suggests even greater health benefits in terms of reducing heart disease risk with even greater amounts of physical activity. But the recommendation from the American Heart Association is for 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity.

As for my own interests, that also has changed over time. I hear Joan talking about playing tennis. I love to play tennis, I played in high school and college and my husband and I play tennis a lot and played before we had children. Now that we have two girls and they are old enough to play, we should probably try to get back out there. I tend to get up early in the morning before anyone else is up and go running, which for me is very peaceful. I like to do it then because I know as the day goes on it gets harder and harder to carve out some time to put away for myself. I put the headphones on and feel like I have started my day. No matter what else happens, I know I have gotten my activity and I feel great. But if I have a little more time or if we're on vacation, I love to go bike riding. I live in a beautiful part of the country and there's lots of things to do. It's also nice to get a variety of activity so you don't get bored with what you're doing. Sometimes I go with friends, sometimes I go on my own. If we're traveling, walking or running is actually an easy choice because you can do it anywhere. We lived in Washington, D.C. last year and drove from Washington back to California, and we got to see a lot of the country. I would run as we stopped and I got to see a lot of the country too.

I think whatever you do, whatever you enjoy, is going to work in terms of helping you to feel better and helping you to live longer.

Quick GuideHeart Disease: Symptoms, Signs, and Causes

Heart Disease: Symptoms, Signs, and Causes

MEMBER QUESTION: Is walking at a normal pace for 60 minutes equivalent to 30 minutes of moderate walking? I have asthma and find that if I'm walking at a faster pace I tend to get out of breath very easily.

REDBERG: I think if you can walk at 60 minutes at a comfortable pace that is great and will definitely show a health benefit. A lot of studies that we have done that have looked at women and predicting their risk of heart disease and actually of any disease, have more to do with overall fitness than on how fast they were walking. So somebody who is able to walk 60 minutes at a normal pace is clearly going to have a good level of fitness. I think you should feel great that you are doing that and overcoming the limitations you have from your asthma.

MODERATOR: Joan, what are you dos and don'ts for maintaining heart health?

LUNDEN: Don't make excuses. Put yourself on your own to-do list and get it in early if possible. I always find, just like Dr. Redberg said, if I do things early in the day, then the day doesn't tend to get away from me.

And it changes. For me, during the summertime I play a lot of tennis and I get out. I don't run anymore because I had a disk injury; I now do a fast-paced walk. It took me a while to be happy with that because I felt I should be running. I realize now that I get great benefit out of getting out and walking at a fast pace. I like to put my headset on and listen to music; it kind of keeps my legs going. And then during the wintertime, when I know I'm not going to be out playing tennis, I've got some exercise equipment here in the house. I do go to a gym, but plenty of times I just go right down there and do it myself. Again, I try to schedule it.

You have to make that appointment. Make that appointment to take care of yourself just as important as any other appointment that you have in the day. That's how I addressed it when I started making big changes in my life. I made my appointment with my own health really at the top of my list and more important than anything else. Women should start doing this, and I do recommend that they do it slowly at first and build up so that you don't injure yourself; do it so that it's not so overwhelming that you say, "I don't want to do this anymore." Build up and add on five minutes each day, then you can go a little bit faster and build up.

I am here to guarantee them that at the end of this 12-week program that if they will just take the time and make the commitment to invest 12 weeks, at the end of it, they are going to feel so much better. They are never going to be willing to let go of it again.

Do educate yourself. Look at the nutrition tips as well, and start implementing them. If you go on the American Heart Association site, there are many, many recipes that are really tasty and really easy to cook. When you start becoming more aware of the protein-rich foods that you should be buying and how to cut out some of the saturated fat, and particularly to try to start avoiding those foods for you and for your children that are filled with trans fats: a lot of fried and processed foods, a lot of the chips and processed cookies and things have these trans fats in them that are the worst fats. Learn about those. You can get all this information -- if you're on a computer it's at your fingertips today.

Make a commitment and say, "This is important to me to be healthy and to be around for my children later on, and to live a longer life, and to have those last years be quality years."

I think at the end of the 12-week program, women will be so impressed with how wonderful they feel and how much more energy they have, that those will be the things that will kind of catapult them on and make them want to keep going after the program is over.

REDBERG: I agree with Joan and I think it's important to learn to read food labels, just as Joan said. I have two girls, ages 10 and 12. The 12-year-old this morning was reading her cereal label to find out how much sugar and fat and how much vitamins were in the cereal. The information is there, and if you look at it, it's sometimes shocking. Look at a label for a bottle of fruit juice, which is often a whole other issue, marketed for children, and it's got 40 grams of sugar -- more than we're supposed to be having in a day. You can get a lot of information from reading labels as Joan was saying earlier, from choosing healthy snacks like fruits, vegetables and nuts.

We just need to learn a little bit about how to make those healthy food choices. Certainly keeping the foods that we should not be eating out of the house is a big step towards staying away from them.

MODERATOR: We have lots of great nutrition information here on WebMD. Be sure to check it out.

MEMBER QUESTION: The "Choose to Move" program - is it free? What happens after 12 weeks? Will it be a habit by then? Do you have to stay on it for life?

REDBERG: The program is free. After 12 weeks, the hope is that you will stay on it for life, but right now, the handbook only goes for 12 weeks and it's got a different focus for every week.

We hope to soon be collecting data on whether women who have been on the program for 12 weeks are able to stay on it for life. We hope that 12 weeks is enough time to learn how to make healthier diet choices. We do know from past years that women have found that sufficient time to have learned a lot about making healthier diet choices and about how to incorporate physical activity into a busy lifestyle.

LUNDEN: You have to start somewhere and so this is an attempt to reach out to as many women as possible -- to help raise their awareness about how important this is. It's not just to be fit and trim, but to reduce their risk of heart disease. It is our hope, that if you follow this for 12 weeks, and it's really not difficult at all, that this will be your start and that we will help give you a start to a healthier lifestyle.

Again, it is free and it's very easy. When you are on your computer, just go to www.americanheart.org/choosetomove. You can also call in to join at 888-MYHEART.

This is an opportunity to give as many women as possible a start to a healthier life. I think it's also a great opportunity for women to not only get themselves started on healthier living habits, but to also pass these on to their children because, let's face it, we're the ones that set the tone in our homes. We're the ones who buy the groceries (for the most part) and we're the ones who are cooking the meals. We can give our children a healthier start to life, we can let them grow up with healthy habits so they don't have to learn them later in life, we can help them to reduce their risk of heart disease and, of course, keeping their weight in tow is the most important thing in cutting down their risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, many other diseases and staving off cancer. If we can get them used to eating fruits and vegetables at every meal and cutting down the amounts of fat they eat and the amount of salt that they eat, that is the most precious gift that we could ever give to our children.

One of the things that I found interesting too is the fact that so many women who have had heart attacks say that they felt that they didn't have any symptoms. Dr. Redberg, what are the symptoms?

REDBERG: I think something that we are becoming more and more aware of, is that women do present somewhat differently with heart disease than men do. We know that women in general are diagnosed later and that maybe that it's harder for women to recognize the symptoms because they are not thinking they have heart disease or because the symptoms may be a little different.

It may not be a classic chest pain like an elephant sitting on your chest, but maybe it's a pain that's in the right side instead of the left side, which is more common, or may be in the arm or the neck or even in the stomach. So a lot of this is being more aware of the risks of heart disease and more aware that it doesn't have to be that classic chest pain.

LUNDEN: I think also that we have to be aware of our family history. That's the one component here that we can't do anything about but it's important that you do know about your family history and you let your doctor know about it. I think I have read it many times -- 35% of this is family history and the rest is us; it's our lifestyle, it's our daily habits. So we are very much in control of our health and our destiny.

It's up to us to also make sure that we check our blood pressure and our cholesterol levels and I guess probably one of the most important factors, doctor, wouldn't it be your weight, the amount of overweight and the lack of physical activity?

REDBERG: Absolutely. In all the studies that we do, body mass index (BMI) or weight is highly correlated with your risk for heart disease as well as your risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

I think physical activity is probably the single most underutilized intervention that we have to reduce and prevent heart disease.

LUNDEN: Physical activity actually is the one thing that we all have the most control over inserting into our lives. When you think about your day, isn't it worth it to figure out how to get that 30 minutes (whether it's three 10-minute intervals or 30 minutes) into each day in order to have a longer, healthier life, to have more energy, to feel better and look better? I think that the balance definitely tips in favor of figuring out how to incorporate this into our lifestyle, and having all of those added benefits.

REDBERG: I think you're absolutely right. It's hard to think of anything that helps you to feel better and look better and improve your memory; there are so many benefits.

But if you look at kind of our societal emphasis, it's hard for me to think that we're actually pruning the priority on physical activity. We're now taking physical activity out of our public school funding in California because they don't want to pay for PE teachers anymore. That sends a message to children and if they don't start early, it's very hard to pick up those habits later on. Certainly the epidemic of childhood obesity is going to be hard when those children grow up to be adults. It's hard for children who are obese to become an average-weight adult. I think that we really need a wake-up call as a society that we need to put a lot more emphasis on healthy eating and physical activity and not being sedentary.

MODERATOR: It is critical that we do what we can to change our heart health destiny and it sounds like this program really can help us get on the right track. What kind of response have you gotten to ""Choose to Move"" so far?

REDBERG: Since Joan Lunden and I talked about this probably six weeks ago for the launch of the 2005 "Choose to Move", I believe there have been about 90,000 women who have signed up in the last few months. I'd have to check those numbers, but we've had an incredible response. We would love to have tens of thousands more women sign up -- there isn't any upper limit. We would like everyone to be able to take advantage of the "Choose to Move" program.

MODERATOR: That's fantastic. I hope we get many more today!

REDBERG: That would be great.

LUNDEN: That's why I came on board. When the American Heart Association came to me, I had been involved in writing a book with a pediatric nutritionist over the last year called Growing Up Healthy , so it's been a great interest to me.

We have to reach out to specifically women who do the shopping and cook the food, to try to intervene right now in this terrible epidemic of childhood obesity which experts say could result in having the next generation be the first generation to die before their parents -- which would be a terrible legacy. We all need to have this huge wake-up call and intervene and start really putting a check on what kind of foods we're buying in our homes and how many times we're allowing our children to eat out at fast-food restaurants.

You know, children may not always listen to us, but they never fail to imitate us. So if we're not exercising and we're not eating properly and we have poor health habits, that is what our children are going to see and that is what they are going to emulate and that's what they are going to consider normal.

I want to be able to reach out and perhaps sign on hundreds of thousands of women across this country, and I'd like to see this become a movement. This isn't something that should overwhelm you, this is something that should empower you. This is something that should make you say, "You know, I'm hearing them, and I get it. I can do something about this. I can change my life. I can feel better about myself. I can feel physically better. I can lengthen my life and add years to my life to be around to see my children grow. And at the same time I can make a critical impact on my children and on my family." Maybe you will make that impact on your spouse who really needs this also.

So to me, it's just this incredible, empowering opportunity to try to kind of grab ahold of the hands of women across this country and say, "Sign on. Let it be your inspiration. Let it be what gets you moving. Let it be what gets you to choose to move and change your life and be healthier."

MODERATOR: And if we choose to move by doing something fun with our family, we cannot only help ourselves and provide a model for our children, but we get them moving and improve their lives.

LUNDEN: This is our chance and our opportunity. There are a lot of women out there that were like me, that talk about it forever until finally one day I said, "All right, I've got to stop talking and have I to choose to move. And I've got to do it!"

It's a very easy thing to sign up for and I really hope a lot of women will kind of jump on the band wagon and get themselves into it. Tell your friends, tell your mom and your sister, It's important for all of us to really have this wake-up call.

MEMBER QUESTION: In the program, is there a way to email particular questions? Questions along the lines of asking if something is a healthy choice or if something can be suggested alternatively?

REDBERG: I don't think that there is an interactive feature right now to the program. That's an interesting suggestion and we can look into it for the future, but currently that is not a feature of this program.

MODERATOR: You can always contact a specialist on one of the WebMD message boards.

REDBERG: That's a great idea.

LUNDEN: This is putting health into your life and it's adding years to your life, but it also puts energy into your daily life. Many women say, "I am too tired, I don't have the time or energy to exercise." If they only understood that if they started diligently working on incorporating exercise into their life, they will have the energy; they will find it, and it's really an exciting, exciting thing to do. It is an incredibly empowering movement when women start to realize how much better they feel and how much more energetic they feel and how much more they feel that they are patient. It affects your mental capacity and it affects your attitude when you wake up every day.

MODERATOR: We are almost out of time. Before we wrap things up for today, do each of you have any final words for us?

REDBERG: Thank you for giving us the opportunity to talk about "Choose to Move". I would just love to emphasize that although heart disease is the leading cause of death in women, it is a largely preventable disease. There are lots of things we can do -- a lot of them revolve around lifestyle changes that we need to make for ourselves like healthier eating and increasing physical activity and being more aware of our heart disease risk. It's for those reasons that I highly recommend either logging on to "Choose to Move" or calling the 1-888MYHEART number and trying out "Choose to Move" because it's really something great that women can do for themselves.

LUNDEN: You always hear people say they are frustrated because they can't effect a change in one way or another. Here is a place where you can effect a change in your own health, your own life. I guarantee your life will be more fun.

It's also an opportunity to effect a change in our children and to protect our children. If someone told you that there was a medication or an inoculation that you could give your child that would perhaps protect them from debilitating disease in their adult years, be it diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, stroke or coronary artery disease, and that it would extend their lives, if it was something you could do to make your child's life last five, 10, 15 years longer, you would say, "Let me sign up!" This is your chance -- sign up and start to change your life. That will in turn start to change your children's lives.

MODERATOR: Our thanks to Joan Lunden and Rita Redberg, MD, for joining us today. To find out more and to sign up for the "Choose to Move" program please visit www.americanheart.org/choosetomove.

The American Heart Association program "Choose to Move" is sponsored by the Almond Board of California and the Mrs. Dash® brand.

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Reviewed on 6/21/2005 7:26:16 PM

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