(HealthDay News) — Even a few bouts of moderate exercise each week can cut a middle-aged woman’s odds for coronary heart disease (CHD), venous thromboembolism (VTE) and stroke, according to new research, and exercising more frequently or strenuously may not provide greater reductions in cardiovascular (CV) risk.
The findings were published in Circulation.
Miranda E.G. Armstrong, PhD, from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and colleagues tracked the health of more than 1.1 million British women who had no history of CHD, stroke, VTE, diabetes or cancer. The women averaged 56 years of age when they joined the study between 1996 and 2001.
Over an average follow-up of 9 years, women who did moderate exercise two to three times a week had a 20% lower risk for CHD, stroke or VTE than those who did little or no exercise. Moderate exercise was defined as being active enough to cause sweating or increased heart rate, and included walking, gardening and cycling.
The take-home message, according to Armstrong: “To prevent heart disease, stroke and blood clots, women don’t have to be super athletes or strenuously exercise daily to experience the benefits of physical activity.”
In fact, adding lots of extra strenuous exercise may offer “little additional benefit above that from moderately frequent activity,” Armstrong said in a news release from the American Heart Association.