Diet and Exercise

Between juggling work, family, heath and a social life, diet and exercise often go on the back burner. For many women, it may be difficult to follow a healthy eating and exercise routine in order to keep a healthy weight. This is especially true once women start having symptoms of menopause. It is important to follow an appropriate diet and keep active to avoid developing problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Before starting any diet or exercise plan, talk with your doctor i to make sure the plan is right for you. The VA has qualified nutritionists you can speak with in order to find the right diet. The VA Move program can help you learn ways to exercise safely and reach a healthy weight. For more information on the VA Move program, please click here:


The US Department of Agriculture developed has made dietary recommendations that include each food group. Following these guidelines can make sure that you are getting the nutrients you need to stay healthy. This plan suggests that people age 50 and over eat the following each day:

Fruits Vegetables Grains


Dairy Oils Fat and Sugar
1 ½-2 ½ cups 2-3 ½ cups 5-10 ounces 5-7 ounces 3 cups of fat free or low fat milk 5-8 teaspoons Keep amounts small


Remember, if you eat too many high fat or sugary foods, you will not have enough calories that day for the nutritious foods your body needs.


Your doctor may want you to be on a specific diet depending on your health. If you have a diagnosed or you are high risk for heart disease, diabetes, or other conditions then speak to your doctor about the right diet for you. Make sure to discuss what medications you are on with your doctor before deciding on any diet or exercise program.

If you are over 50, follow the recommendations for calorie intake below depending on your activity level:

  • if you are not physically active, you should eat about 1,600 calories
  • if you are somewhat active, you should eat about 1,800 calories
  • if you are active, then you should be eating about 2000–2,200 calories


Wear a Pedometer

A pedometer is a small device that counts your steps. Using a pedometer is a simple way to keep track of your activity level. People who count 5,000 steps a day or less are considered inactive. If you fall into this category, don’t be discouraged. You can build from there. If you have health problems that prevent you from walking more, you can speak with your doctor about other ways to remain active. For those who would like to be more active follow the following goals:

  • Fewer than 5,000 steps per day is considered inactive. Try to increase your daily steps in 1,000 intervals daily or weekly (whichever way you feel is best for you)
  • If you take about 8,000 steps per day you are meeting the recommended daily target to maintain your weight
  • If you take 10,000 steps per day you are considered active and are meeting activity daily goals for weight loss.
  • If you take more than 10,000 steps per day feel confident that you are in the high-activity group of the population.


Ways to Be Active

Try to do all four types of exercise in order to achieve the best results— endurance, strength, balance and flexibility.

  • Start slow and try to build up to at least 30 minutes of activity that makes you breathe hard each session. Exercising daily is best but it isn’t for everyone due to their health and fitness levels. Follow your doctor’s advice for frequency and let your body   guide you as to what you can do at one time. This is called an endurance activity because it starts building your energy. You don’t have to be active for 30 minutes all at once. Ten minutes at a time is fine.How do you know if you are pushing yourself enough? The intensity of your workout (the level of effort required for your workout) determines how much you are pushing yourself. If you can easily hold a conversation while you exercise, then you are working out at low intensity. If you can’t talk at all, then you may be pushing yourself too hard. For a vigorous intensity workout you should be able to say just a few words without stopping to breathe. Moderate intensity workouts allow you to hold a short conversation. For more information on intensity please visit:


  • Keep your muscles active. Strength exercises build muscles. When your muscles are strong and in shape then you can carry groceries without difficulty, do yardwork without struggling, and jog through the park.Keeping your muscles in shape helps prevent falls and fractures. You are less likely to fall when your leg and hip muscles are strong.


  • Do exercises to help your balance. Try to stand on one foot at a time. Try not to hold on to anything for support. Tai-chi and yoga are good exercises to help improve balance.


  • Try stretching exercises that can improve your flexibility. Staying flexible reduces your risk of injury while working out and in your daily life. Stretch when your muscles are warmed up. Don’t stretch so far that it hurts.

Safety Tips

Here are some tips on how you can exercise safely:

  • Don’t overdo it. If you haven’t been active for a long time there is no reason to rush. The safest way you can build up how long and how hard you work out is to do it little by little.
  • Breathe through your strength training. Holding your breath during strength exercises can lead to a change in your blood pressure. When lifting weights or doing resistance training you should breathe out as you lift something and breathe in as you relax.
  • Use safety equipment meant for specific activities. Wear a bike helmet and follow bike safety laws when going for a bike ride. Walking, jogging, and running put different types of stress on your feet and muscles. Make sure the shoes you buy are for that activity.
  • Be sure to drink plenty of liquids when you are exercising. Many of us are too busy in our daily lives and forget to drink water or liquids.If you have a medical condition that restricts your liquid intake make sure to talk to your doctor about the length and intensity of your exercise
  • When bending over always bend forward from the hips and not the waist. If your back is straight then you’re probably bending the right way. If your back arches, then you are bending wrong.
  • Warm up your muscles before you stretch or do any activity.
  • If you’re exercising outside after work or in the evening, please remember to do so in well-lit and safe areas and always pay attention to your surroundings.


Please remember, you might feel sore afterwards, a little discomfort, but there should be no pain when you exercise. If there is, stop and speak with your doctor before continuing.