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Major Life Events Impact Physical Activity

Big changes can affect heart health.

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Couple with newborn to show major life events

Fit pros can boost clients’ health by coaching them to get more physical activity when they’re going through major life events. The American Heart Association issued a Scientific Statement to urge healthcare professionals to promote regular physical activity to patients who are experiencing major life changes such as starting a new job, having a baby or entering retirement.

Sedentary behavior is an emerging cardiovascular disease risk factor. Other risk factors include high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, diabetes, obesity, unhealthy blood cholesterol levels, poor nutrition, excessive alcohol consumption and heredity. Low physical activity also increases risks of hypertension, obesity, unhealthy cholesterol levels and diabetes.change

“Certain life events and transitions may mark the beginning and ending of different phases of a person’s life, and these life changes may lead to periods of less physical activity and more sedentary lifestyle behavior,” said writing group chair Abbi D. Lane-Cordova, PhD, an assistant professor in exercise science at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. Experts found that for people with lower levels of education, those without access to outdoor spaces, and for women during pregnancy and parenthood, the risks of inactivity from life changes are even higher.

The statement is available in Circulation (2021; 145 [4]).

See also: Coping Through Stress to Flourish

Shirley Eichenberger-Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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