It can be hard to peel away from the couch after a long day at work.
But there’s a simple reason why you should try to be active, even if only for a few minutes: Exercise, even if it doesn’t make you break a sweat, is associated with a lower risk of heart disease if you’re a woman under 50, according to a new study published Tuesday in the journal Circulation.
Scientists have found similar results with older and middle-aged women, but this was the first time that they looked to see if younger women could also cut their risk with exercise.
And, in this study, the researchers found that young women who spent more than 150 minutes of their free time doing activities had about a 25% lower risk of having an incident of coronary heart disease.
They also noticed that it didn’t matter how many times a week or how hard the woman worked out (a brisk walk was even associated with lower risk), so long as it was for about 2 and a half hours a week.
“It doesn’t matter if the exercise is moderate or vigorous, if you do it 6 days per week or 3 . . . every little bit counts,” lead author Andrea Chomistek at the Indiana University School of Public Health told Reuters.
The researchers looked at 97,000 women, aged 27-44, who took part in the Nurses’ Health Survey in 1991. After every two years, they asked the same participants how much time they spent exercising, as well as how frequently they exercised in a week.
Interestingly, the results didn’t depend on how much the woman weighed.
A number of factors could also be contributing to the lower rates of heart disease observed in women who exercised more. And, the study was just focused on female nurses who were predominantly white, so the same lowered risk might not be observed in other populations.
Either way, though, it’s still a good excuse to get active — even if it’s just for a walk around the neighbourhood.
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