A 20-year concurrent study showed that even two-and-a-half hours a week of brisk walking could lower risk of heart disease significantly.
The study was conducted by the Indiana University School of Public Health. Over 95,000 women between the ages of 27 to 44 were observed and questioned biannually for 20 years. The purpose was to study the association of total leisure-time physical activity with heart disease in younger women. One finding was with the ladies who participated in at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. They were found to have an approximate 30% percent lower risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD).
Why This Study?
One of the reasons researchers chooses this age group is because there has already been a multitude of studies on “older” women and men. Examining the probability of getting CHD at a younger age means earlier treatment and lifestyle choices. Another alarming reason is that there has been the very little decline in CHD-related mortality rates amongst young women. The rise in type-2 diabetes and obesity numbers certainly hasn’t helped make a dent. (At the time of this publication, 58% of women between 20 and 39 years old are overweight or obese. The number of women between 40 and 55 hangs at 71%.)
One real discovery was that physical activity lowered CHD risk—regardless of a woman’s BMI. So for young women of any weight, moderate exercise, physical activity is beneficial.
The study, published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, also examined the effects of moderate vs. intense activity. The researchers additionally explored if a particular type of exercise made a difference. And finally, they looked at the frequency of participating in exercise and its effects on lowering CHD risk.
Exercise does not have to be strenuous to reduce heart disease risk. It can be moderate, such as brisk walking. Frequency was found to be not as important as total volume; meaning the total amount of time per week trumped how many times.
It Begins Early
Setting up routines for regular exercise as a young person is a wise choice. Movement becomes a habit, not a chore. Additionally, physical activity participation between the ages of 14 and 22, showed to lower CHD risk up until middle adulthood. However, this study also revealed that those who are middle-aged and older no longer benefit from their high-school years of sports, etc. Physical activity must be resumed—even if it’s only a total of three hours a week.
What was also fascinating is that the effects on blood pressure, lipids, glucose levels, and triglycerides were all altered beneficially directly after physical activity. This is a critical note. No matter how inactive you may have been (or still are), the second you pick yourself, it immediately benefits your body on so many levels. You may not see what’s going on inside, but once you start exercising, your heart fills with smiles.
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