Light Physical Activity Associated With Reduced Risk of Heart Disease in Older Women

Bottom Line: An observational study of  nearly 5,900 older women (ages 50 to 79) that used data from accelerometers to measure light physical activity suggests all movement during the day may have a role in reducing risk for coronary heart disease (CHD) and cardiovascular disease (CVD). A greater reduced risk was associated with the highest level of light physical activity (more than 5.6 hours per day) compared with the lowest level of light physical activity (less than 3.9 hours per day). These reduced risks were maintained after accounting for physical functioning and other measures of women’s health status. Among the women, 143 new cases of CHD (including heart attack and coronary death) and 570 new cases of CVD (including CHD, revascularization, carotid artery disease, hospitalized angina, congestive heart failure, stroke or death from other cardiovascular disease) occurred during an average follow-up of 3.5 years. Longer studies that include men are needed to increase the strength of the evidence around light physical activity to prevent CVD. The authors suggest these findings support the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans about replacing sedentary behavior with light physical activity.

Authors: Andrea Z. LaCroix, Ph.D., M.P.H., University of California, San Diego, and coauthors

(doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.0419)