Women, exercise and longevity
Women who can exercise vigorously are at significantly lower risk of dying from heart disease, cancer and other causes. The research was presented at EuroEcho 2019, a scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).1
Study author Dr Jesús Peteiro, of University Hospital A Coruña, Spain advised women: "Exercise as much as you can. Fitness protects against death from any cause."
Exercise is good for health and longevity, but information on women is poor. Women generally live longer than men, so dedicated studies are needed. This study examined exercise capacity and heart function during exercise in women and their links with survival. The study included 4,714 middle aged or older women referred for treadmill exercise echocardiography because of known or suspected coronary artery disease.
Participants walked or ran on a treadmill, gradually increasing the intensity, and continuing until exhaustion. Women who achieved good exercise capacity were compared to those achieving poor exercise capacity. During a median follow-up of 4.6 years there were 345 cardiovascular deaths. After adjusting for factors that could influence the relationship, METs were significantly associated with lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other causes.
Dr Peteiro said: "Looking at both examinations together, women whose heart works normally during exercise are unlikely to have a cardiovascular event."
1 The abstract ‘Prediction of different causes of mortality by exercise echocardiography in women’ will be presented during the session Stress echocardiography in 2020 on 7 December at 11:00 to 12:30 CET in the Agora.
2 One metabolic equivalents (MET) is the rate of energy expenditure, or oxygen use, while sitting quietly (1 kcal/kg/hour or 3.5 mL/kg/min). Light activities (standing, walking slowly) use less than three METs, moderate-intensity activities (brisk walking) use three to six METs, and vigorous-intensity activities (jogging, playing football) use more than six METs.