BANGOR – As more women enter the workforce, the likelihood that stress will impact their health also increases.
Stress is a contributing factor to heart disease — the number one killer of women in the U.S. — and stroke, which hits one out of every five women at some point in their lives.
A local wellness expert says she’s noticed that — just like with men — there is a correlation between hard working women and stress-related health issues.
“Breast cancer used to be the number one killer of women, the number one cause of death of women, and now it’s heart disease,” said Lyn Bragdon, owner of Super Slow Zone on Hogan Road. “Which is more similar to men. And I think that is directly related to how much stress they have in their lives.”
Even though heart disease is thought of as a man’s disease, the truth is: It kills around same number of women and men in the U.S. each year – just short of 300,000.
Besides stress, diabetes, being overweight, living a stationary lifestyle and excessive alcohol use are other contributing factors to a higher risk of heart disease.
That means there are steps people can take to reduce their likelihood of having a stroke or heart attack.
“It’s really getting back to basics,” Bragdon said. “It’s watching what you eat. Making sure you exercise regularly. Even the small amount of movement can make a huge difference when somebody needs to start slow.”
A Bangor grandmother, who is raising two teenage granddaughters by herself, is one woman who recently decided to invest in herself by adding strength training to her weekly regiment.
“The stress has been reduced,” said Marsha Baker, who works at the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce. “The girls even this morning, one of them said, ‘There is something different about you grandma.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh good. I’m glad you noticed.’ And they said, ‘Keep it up.’”
She didn’t want to join a typical gym, so Baker decided on an 18-minute workout at the Super Slow Zone.
“It’s been amazing,” Baker said. “I’ve been going since about mid-April and I’ve dropped about 10 pounds and I have more energy and strength than I’ve had in a long time. I actually got on the floor to play with the cat the other day.”
Taking steps to reduce stress is a great preventative measure for both heart attacks and strokes, she said.
“It’s better to be safe than sorry,” said Bragdon. “And for those with a minimal amount of time: Go for a walk. It’s summertime in Maine. Summer is so short, get out and do some walking.”