It Doesn’t Take Much

Women active a few times weekly have lower risk of heart disease




Middle-age women who are physically active a few times a week have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke and blood clots than inactive women, according to research in the American Heart Association journal Circulation. Surprisingly, more frequent physical activity didn’t result in further reductions in risk, researchers said.

In the study:

  • Women who performed strenuous physical activity — enough to cause sweating or a faster heart beat — two to three times per week were about 20 percent less likely to develop heart disease, strokes or blood clots compared to participants who reported little or no activity.
  • Among active women, there was little evidence of further risk reductions with more frequent activity.

Physical activities associated with reduced risk included walking, gardening and cycling. "Inactive middle-aged women should try to do some activity regularly," said Miranda Armstrong, M.Phil., Ph.D, the study’s lead author and a physical activity epidemiologist at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. "However, to prevent heart disease, stroke and blood clots, our results suggest that women don’t need to do very frequent activity as this seems to provide little additional benefit above that from moderately frequent activity."

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