Women who engage in regular light activities have a much lower risk of heart disease than inactive women, say US researchers.

Using a study group of 39,372 women aged 45 years or older, researchers from Harvard Medical School examined the relationship between physical activity specifically walking and coronary heart disease. They found that light to moderate activity can be protective. For instance, walking for just one hour per week lowered the risk of heart disease by nearly 50 per cent compared with no regular walking. However, walking two or more hours a week resulted in a similar decrease in risk. Researchers also found that time spent walking not pace was the key. Fast walking was no more protective than slow walking. In addition, the protective effects of walking was demonstrated in both healthy women and in those at higher risk (such as smokers, overweight women, hypertensives and those with high cholesterol levels) (J Am Med Assoc, 2001; 285: 1447-54).

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Written by What Doctors Don't Tell You

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