Even light physical activity such as gardening, strolling through a park, and folding clothes might be enough to significantly lower the risk of cardiovascular disease among women 63 and older. While the risk of stroke or heart failure is reduced by up to 22%, the risk of heart attack or coronary death, is reduced by as much as 42%.
In the five-year prospective study published March 15, 2019 in JAMA Network Open, researchers followed a racially and ethnically diverse group of 5,861 women aged 63 to 97 years to find out if higher amounts of light physical activity were associated with reduced risks of coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease. None had a history of myocardial infarction or stroke. The women were part of the NHLBI-funded Objective Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Health (OPACH), a sub-cohort of the Women’s Health Initiative.
The movements of the participants were tracked with hip-mounted accelerometers 24 hours a day for seven consecutive days. Cardiovascular disease events such as heart attacks and strokes were tracked for the five years of the study.
According to the study author Andrea LaCroix, Ph.D., chair of the Division of Epidemiology and director of the Women’s Health Center of Excellence at the University of California, San Diego, the higher the amount of activity, the lower the risk. And the risk reduction showed regardless of the women’s overall health status, functional ability or even age.