A new study by researchers at the University of California, San Diego explored how older women’s habits around the house can affect their heart health.
According to their findings, tracking daily household activities, such as washing dishes, cooking or even taking a shower, may reduce the risk of heart disease in older women.
“The study shows that all movements count for the prevention of diseases”, noted researcher Steve Nguyen, Ph.D. “Spending more time in the movements of daily living, which includes a wide range of activities that we all do while standing and out of our chairs, has resulted in a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. ”
All movement contributes to disease risk
For the study, researchers analyzed data from more than 5,400 women enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative Physical Activity and Heart Health Study. For a week, the women wore accelerometers to measure the frequency and intensity of their daily movements. The team was primarily interested in analyzing movements that would not be considered traditional exercises, such as movements related to daily tasks or activities.
The study showed that the activity the team defined as “everyday life movement” is integral to heart health. They categorized movements of daily living as any activity that occurs while standing or walking indoors, such as cooking, gardening, changing clothes, showering or washing dishes.
Researchers learned that women who logged at least four hours a day of daily movement had better heart health than those who did less than two hours of these activities. Women in the first group were 43% less likely to develop heart disease and more than 60% less likely to experience a heart disease-related death. They were also 43% less likely to develop coronary heart disease and 30% less likely to have a stroke.
With many older women struggling with heart health issues, the researchers hope these findings will bring some positive news. While traditional exercise is important for heart health, this study shows that staying active at home throughout the day can also benefit older women’s hearts.
“Much of the movement done by older adults is associated with the tasks of daily living, but it may not be considered physical activity,” said researcher Andrea LaCroix, Ph.D. “Understanding the benefits of movement in everyday life and adding it to physical activity guidelines can encourage more movement.”