We know exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle at all stages of life. That’s a no-brainer. However, there was a recent study done on women between the ages of 50 and 75 that highlighted the importance of building up our fitness capacity if we want a long, healthy life.
The study had these women, who were at risk of heart disease, do a treadmill heart stress test. Doctors monitored their heart rhythm and blood pressure during the test. The participants either walked or ran depending on what they were able to do, until they reached exhaustion.
The researchers compared the women according to how vigorously they were able to exercise. They separated them into a group who was able to do the equivalent of walking up four flights of stairs or walking up three flights at a very fast pace, both without stopping and those who could not.
When they followed up with the participants 5 years later they found cardiovascular deaths were about four times higher in women with poor exercise capacity, cancer deaths were doubled, and other deaths were more than four times higher than in the group who were not as physically fit.
The researchers concluded that increasing heart rate with vigorous exercise supports healthy heart functioning and can greatly reduce the risks of death in middle-aged and older women. My preferred way of doing this is HIIT (high intensity interval training) which doesn’t take a lot of time and definitely gets the heart rate up.
However, keep in mind more is not always better. People (men and women) who exercised well in excess of the recommended 150 minutes of moderately vigorous exercise a week were found to be at higher risk of heart problems. So pay attention to your body and always increase gradually.
How fit are you? Do you regularly exercise vigorously? If not – will you begin now?
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