Vigorous Exercise for women
Women with a greater exercise capacity on a heart stress test had a lower risk of dying from heart disease and other conditions.
The study found poor exercisers were twice as likely to die from cancer and more than four times as likely to die from other causes, compared to women on a higher fitness level.
HIT can be one way to help your heart even if you don’t have much time to work out.
Women who can exercise at a higher intensity during a heart stress test are less likely to die from heart disease, cancer, and other causes, say the authors of a new study.
Scott Butcher, PhD, an associate professor of physical therapy at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada, said these findings are “right in line” with other research looking at the impact of fitness level on the risk of dying from these kinds of conditions.
It’s no surprise that exercise is good for your health, but does the new study mean that all women should take up more vigorous exercise like running, swimming laps, or kickboxing?
Not necessarily. There are many ways to increase your fitness level. Still, for some women, higher-intensity workouts can be a great option.
In the new study, researchers looked at two groups of women — those with good exercise capacity and those with poor exercise capacity.
Women with good exercise capacity were able to exercise at an intensity of 10 metabolic equivalents (METs) or better during a stress echo cardiogram.
MET level is a measure of how much energy is burned during an activity — it’s also a proxy for the intensity of a physical activity.
Anything over 6 METs is considered vigorous exercise. Running a 10-minute mile is about 10 METs. Mountain biking uphill is 14 METs.
Researchers found that women with poor exercise capacity were almost four times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease compared to women with good exercise capacity.
Poor exercisers were also twice as likely to die from cancer and more than four times as likely to die from other causes, compared to women with a higher fitness level.
The study was presented December 7 at Euro Echo 2019, a scientific meeting of the European Society of Cardiology. The results have not been published yet in a peer-reviewed journal, so should be viewed with some caution.
Most of the women in the study were between 50 and 75 years old. Researchers followed the women on average for about 5 years.
While the study found that having a higher exercise capacity is a good thing, the researchers didn’t look at what women did to reach that level of fitness.
“MET level on the test used in this study is simply a marker of maximal capacity, not necessarily of ‘vigorous exercise’ training,” said Butcher.
So the study gives an idea of how fit the women were, but we don’t know how intensely they trained — or what physical activities they did.
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