Even Housework, Gardening Can Help an Older Woman’s Heart

Think exercise has to be high-intensity to make a difference to your health? Think again. New research shows that even routine housework and gardening can help older women’s hearts.

“For older women, any and all movement counts towards better cardiovascular health,” said Dr. David Goff. He’s director of the division of cardiovascular sciences at the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), which funded the new research.

“When we tell people to move with heart, we mean it, and the supporting evidence keeps growing,” he said in an institute news release.

Heart disease remains the leading killer of American women and nearly 68 percent of women aged 60 to 79 have heart disease, according to the NHLBI.

The new study was led by Andrea LaCroix, of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). Her team tracked the activity of more than 5,800 U.S. women, aged 63 to 97. Each wore a device that measured their movement 24 hours a day for a full week.

The researchers then tracked each woman’s heart health over the next five years.

The investigators found that even light physical activity — gardening, going for a stroll, folding clothes — appeared to reduce the risk of stroke or heart failure by up to 22 percent, and the risk of heart attack or coronary death by as much as 42 percent.

“The higher the amount of activity, the lower the risk,” said LaCroix, who directs the Women’s Health Center of Excellence at UCSD.

“The risk reduction showed regardless of the women’s overall health status, functional ability or even age,” she added in the news release. “In other words, the association with light physical activity was apparent regardless of these other factors.”

Two cardiologists weren’t surprised by the findings.

“The findings support the American Heart Association’s recommendation to focus on attaining 10,000 steps daily, and the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines, which is in favor of such light physical activity — even in small doses,” said Dr. Eugenia Gianos. She directs Women’s Heart Health at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

Dr. Guy Mintz directs cardiovascular health at Northwell Health’s Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y. He said the new study is superior to older research because those studies tended to rely on people filling out daily-activity questionnaires, which are often inaccurate. Having the women simply wear a device to track their movements is much more reliable, Mintz noted.

As for the results, he estimated that “the cardio-protective benefit of daily light physical activity in older women is similar in magnitude to the event reduction seen with statin [cholesterol] drugs,” Mintz said.

“This study represents a call to action for women of all ages to move. They do not need a membership at an expensive gym, but just a list of chores or activities, to keep busy with each day to lead a healthier and longer life,” he suggested.

It all hearkens back to a simpler — and thinner — era, he added.

“Think of your grandparents cleaning their apartments or homes — dusting, using carpet sweepers, polishing and washing windows, etc. They were a very active generation,” Mintz said.

The study was published online in JAMA Network Open.

Source: HealthDay

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Housework May Help Older Women Living Longer

Like it or not, a little housework is good for you.

Researchers found that simple daily activities such as doing the dishes or folding clothes may help older women live longer.

“Doing something is better than nothing, even when at lower-than-guideline recommended levels of physical activity,” said study lead author Michael LaMonte of the University at Buffalo in New York. He is a research associate professor of epidemiology and environmental health.

LaMonte and his colleagues looked at more than 6,000 women, ages 63 to 99, in the United States. Those who did 30 minutes of light physical activity a day — measured by an accelerometer — had a 12 percent lower risk of death than inactive women.

Risk of death was 39 percent lower among women who did 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day, according to the study.

Light physical activity included regular tasks such as folding clothes, sweeping or washing windows. Moderate to vigorous activity included brisk walking or leisurely bicycling, the authors said in a university news release.

While the study focused on older women, the bottom line applies to younger women and men, too: It’s important to make physical activity a part of your life while you’re younger so you’re more likely to remain active as you age, the researchers said.

The findings were published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Source: HealthDay

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