For A Healthy Heart, Women Should Exercise

Although smoking is the biggest risk factor for heart disease in women under 30, inactivity becomes the primary cause in women over 30.

AsianScientist (Jun 6, 2014) – Lack of exercise is a greater risk for heart disease in women over 30 than smoking, obesity and high blood pressure, University of Queensland researchers have found. The study has been published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Women’s risk factors for heart disease change across their lifespan, says Professor Wendy Brown, of the Center for Research on Exercise, Physical Activity and Health at UQ’s School of Human Movement Studies.

“Smoking has the greatest impact below the age of 30,” said Professor Brown. “As women get older and more give up smoking, physical inactivity became the dominant influence on heart problems across the study population,” Professor Brown said.

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in high-income countries, and smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and physical inactivity together account for more than half the global prevalence. Professor Brown said the study findings suggested that more needed to be done to promote regular exercise in women and to keep women active, “now and into the future”.

“Continuing efforts to encourage people to stop smoking are warranted, but much more emphasis should be placed on physical inactivity,” she said.

The research was based on evidence gathered in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health, which has been tracking the health of more than 32,000 women for 18 years. Professor Brown said national programs for the promotion and maintenance of physical activity – across the adult lifespan, but especially in young adulthood – deserved a much higher public health priority for women than they have now.

“If all over-30s followed recommended exercise guidelines — 150 minutes of moderately intense physical activity per week — the lives of more than 2,600 middle-aged and older women could be saved each year in Australia alone,” she said.

The article can be found at: Brown et al. (2014) Comparing Population Attributable Risks for Heart Disease Across the Adult Lifespan in Women.


Source: University of Queensland; Photo: bluesbby/Flickr/CC.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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