Just a Few Hours of Exercise a Week May Significantly Lower Heart Disease Risk

Data from almost 100,000 women was collected with a follow-up time of 20 years
Data from almost 100,000 women was collected with a follow-up time of 20 years

HealthDay News — Younger women who exercise just 2.5 hours a week may cut their risk for coronary heart disease (CHD) by up to 25%, according to research published in the July 26 issue of Circulation.

Andrea Chomistek, ScD, an assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Indiana University's School of Public Health in Bloomington, and colleagues collected data on 97,230 women, aged 27 to 44, who took part in the Nurses' Health Study 2. Specifically, the researchers looked at the frequency, amount of time, intensity and type of preferred physical activity in which the women participated. During 20 years of follow-up, 544 women developed CHD.

The researchers found that women who were the most physically active during their leisure time had the lowest risk for CHD – 25% lower than women who exercised the least. The reduced risk of CHD was also found with brisk walking alone. The women who seemed to benefit the most exercised the most, at least 150 minutes a week, with the benefits seen regardless of session frequency.

"These prospective data suggest that total volume of leisure-time physical activity is associated with lower risk of incident CHD among young women," the authors write. "In addition, this association was not modified by weight, emphasizing that it is important for normal weight, overweight, and obese women to be physically active."

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