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Researchers to women over 60: Cut sitting time by an hour to lower heart disease risk

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Bethesda, MD — Women 60 and older can significantly reduce their risk for cardiovascular and heart disease by adding an hour of activity each day, according to the results of a National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute-funded study.

Researchers studied 5,638 women between the ages of 63 and 97 who had no history of heart attack or stroke. Almost half of the participants were 80 or older. Participants wore accelerometers for four to seven days as part of the study. Researchers also followed up with the participants for nearly five years to find out about any cardiovascular-related events.

The researchers found that participants who reduced their sedentary time by one hour every day reduced their risk of heart disease 26 percent and their risk of cardiovascular disease 12 percent.

“The association showed up regardless of a woman’s overall health, physical function and other cardiovascular risk factors, including whether they also were engaging in moderate to vigorous physical activity,” lead author John Bellettiere, a research fellow at the University of California, San Diego, said in a Feb. 19 press release.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women 65 and older, and more than two-thirds of women between 60 and 79 have cardiovascular disease. Almost half of all U.S. adults have at least one type of cardiovascular disease, the release states.

“Reductions of sedentary time do not need to happen all at once,” study co-author Andrea LaCroix, chair of the Division of Epidemiology and director of the Women’s Health Center of Excellence at UCSD, said in the release. “I recommend to all women who, like me, are over 60, to make a conscious effort to interrupt our sitting by getting up and moving around as often as we can.”

The study was published online Feb. 19 in the journal Circulation.

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