StrongWomen – Healthy Hearts is a cardiovascular disease prevention curriculum that aims to help women reduce the risk of heart disease through fitness and nutrition education.
The curriculum includes programming designed to help improve heart health and weight control. Each class lasts approximately 1 hour. During half of the class, participants engage in aerobic dancing to a DVD created for the program or walking outside if location and weather permit. The curriculum is designed for women who currently get very little or no exercise. Over the course of the program, the aerobic activity progresses from approximately 20 minutes of low-to-moderate intensity physical activity (plus 5 minutes of gentle stretching) to 25 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity (plus stretching). The other half of each class includes leader-directed discussion around eating for heart health and hands-on cooking activities. The curriculum emphasizes an eating pattern that is rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat or nonfat dairy, fish, whole grains, and legumes; it encourages leaner meats and poultry, and fewer refined carbohydrates and saturated and trans fats. StrongWomen - Healthy Hearts is designed to be taught two days per week for 12 weeks.
In a scientifically rigorous study, the participants in StrongWomen – Healthy Hearts:
- Lost an average of 4 ½ pounds
- Lost 2 inches from their waists
- Consumed fewer calories
- Ate fewer dessert foods
- Walked 1600 more steps per day
StrongWomen – Healthy Hearts was piloted in Kansas and Arkansas and is currently being implemented by the first group of allied health professionals, fitness specialists, and community leaders trained in the StrongWomen – Healthy Hearts curriculum at a day-long national training workshop. We are currently developing a “virtual” workshop for the training of new leaders using blended technologies.