Daily life activities can improve older women’s heart health, study finds

A new study shows performing routine activities such as housework, gardening and cooking can significantly improve cardiovascular health for older women. Health officials said heart disease is the leading cause of death in U.S. women. 

Researchers at the University of California, San Deigo said women with at least four hours of daily life movement had a 43% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, 43% lower risk of coronary heart disease, 30% lower risk of stroke, and notably, a 62% lower risk of cardiovascular disease death. That’s compared to women with less than two hours per day of daily life movement. 

The findings were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. 

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The study ncluded researchers measuring the physical activity of more than 5,400 American women between 63 and 97 years old and who did not have heart disease at the start of the study. Participants wore a research-grade accelerometer for up to seven days in 2014 to see how much time they spent moving, including daily life behaviors. 

More than six years later, researchers said 616 women were diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, 268 with coronary heart disease, 253 had a stroke, and 331 died of cardiovascular disease.

"The study demonstrates that all movement counts towards disease prevention," the study’s author Steve Nguyen said in a statement. "Spending more time in daily life movement, which includes a wide range of activities we all do while on our feet and out of our chairs, resulted in a lower risk of cardiovascular disease."

"Understanding the benefits of daily life movement and adding this to physical activity guidelines may encourage more movement," researcher Andrea LaCroix said. 

Men were not included in the study. Researchers said the study was a apart of the Women’s Health Initiative that started in the 1990s. 

" It is important to replicate these findings on daily life movement among men and younger people as well, as we state in the paper," the study’s author Steve Nguyen said in a statement to FOX Television Stations. "We will be conducting studies and helping others to conduct studies that include both men and women across a wider age range."

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According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death for women, killing nearly 300,000 women in 2017—or about 1 in every 5 female deaths. The CDC also said heart disease is the leading cause of death for African American and white women.

Other risk factors to reduce the change of heart disease includes not smoking, lower blood pressure, lower alcohol intake and reduced stress, according to the CDC. 

This story was reported from Los Angeles.