Posted on Feb 01, 2016, 6 a.m.
Engaging in physical activity a few times per week – and not necessarily with greater frequency – may be most beneficial among middle-aged women.
There is overwhelming scientific evidence to suggest a wide range of health benefits to regular physical activity, but there is some debate as to the extent and frequency optimal for such effects. Miranda Armstrong, from the University of Oxford (United Kingdom), and colleagues completed a large-scale study involving 1.1 million women residing in the UK, average age 56 years, who were free from cancer, heart disease, stroke, blood clots, and diabetes at the study’s start. Women who performed strenuous physical activity – sufficient to cause sweating or a faster heart beat – two to three times per week were about 20% less likely to develop heart disease, strokes or blood clots, as compared to participants who reported little or no activity. Interestingly, among active women, there was little evidence of further risk reductions with more frequent activity. The study authors report that: “Moderate physical activity is associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease, venous thromboembolic event, and cerebrovascular disease than inactivity.”
Armstrong ME, Green J, Reeves GK, Beral V, Cairns BJ; Million Women Study Collaborators. “Frequent physical activity may not reduce vascular disease risk as much as moderate activity: large prospective study of women in the United kingdom.” Circulation. 2015 Feb 24;131(8):721-9.