Harvard Health Letter

Inactivity the biggest risk for developing heart disease

Many factors put you at risk for developing heart disease, such as being overweight, smoking, and having high blood pressure. But a recent study shows that starting at age 30, inactivity has the biggest impact on a woman's risk of heart disease. The research, published online May 8, 2014, in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, looked at health surveys of 32,000 Australian women to determine how much each risk factor contributed to a lifetime heart disease risk. Before age 30, smoking contributed the most risk. But from age 30 until the late 80s, low physical activity levels had more influence than any other risk factor. Researchers estimate that if all women between the ages of 30 and 90 were able to reach the recommended weekly exercise quota—at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking—then more than 2,000 middle-aged and older Australian women each year could be saved from premature death. What can you do to become more active? Start a walking program today.

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