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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

University at Buffalo: Research Indicates When It Comes to Heart Health in Older Women, All Movement Matters

Light physical activity such as strolling through a park or folding clothes might be enough to significantly lower the risk of cardiovascular disease among older women, according to a study co-authored by a University at Buffalo researcher.

This kind of activity appears to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease events such as 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 team reports.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, led the study, which was published March 15 in JAMA Network Open. Dr. Michael LaMonte, research associate professor of epidemiology and environmental health in University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions, is a co-author on the study.

In 2017, LaMonte was the lead author on a study that first reported that women who engaged in 30 minutes of daily light activity had a 12 percent lower risk of death. The new study is a follow-up to Dr. LaMonte’s, which included the UC San Diego team.

In the new study, researchers asked more than 5,500 women aged 63-97 from the Women’s Health Initiative to wear hip-mounted accelerometers that measured their movement 24 hours a day for seven consecutive days.

The accelerometers were also calibrated by age in order to distinguish between light, and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity — a monitoring detail considered a major strength of the study. The researchers followed the participants for almost five years, tracking cardiovascular disease events such as heart attacks and strokes.

Researchers found light physical activity mattered for heart health, even after accounting for age, multiple chronic illnesses like cancer or arthritis, difficulty with movements such as walking and other known risk factors.