Staying physically active is far more likely to determine a woman's future risk of heart disease than any other well-known factor, including smoking, obesity and high blood pressure, a new studyreports.
Looking across the lifespan of Australian women using data on more than 32,000 of them, University of Queensland researchers found that physical inactivity served as the leading risk factor for heart disease at every age from the early 30s to late 80s.
"We have to get everyone to move more," said lead author Wendy Brown, director of the university's Center for Research on Exercise, Physical Activity and Health. "From about age 30, physical activity levels decline. We need to do everything we can to prevent this."
Even though this study was conducted in Australia, American women should figure that physical inactivity will affect their risk of heart disease in much the same way, said Dr. Michael Scott Emery, co-chair of the American College of Cardiology's Sports and Exercise Cardiology Council.