Moving 6,000 or more steps a day, whether through formal exercises or just the activities of daily life, adds up to a healthier life for midlife women.
That level of physical activity decreases the risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome, showed a study published online this month in Menopause, the journal of the North American Menopause Society.
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of cardiovascular disease risk factors, including but not limited to, large waist, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, that can also be a precursor to full blown type 2 diabetes.
There is plenty of evidence that structured exercise is tied to health risks such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, but this study suggests that habitual physical activity, whether through exercising or just having an active life, is enough to improve women's health in midlife.
In Passo Fundo, Brazil, 292 women who were 45 to 72 years old wore pedometers and recorded their daily steps. They also had health checks such as cholesterol and blood sugar and waist and hip measurement (to gauge abdominal obesity, which is a risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease). Women who took 6,000 or more steps per day were considered active and those who took fewer inactive.
The active women were much less likely than the inactive ones to be obese and have metabolic syndrome or frank diabetes, whether or not they had gone through menopause–when these risks usually go up–and whether or not they were using hormone therapy.
For midlife women, it looks like the journey to health begins with 6,000 steps!
You can increase your daily activity doing things like:
- Park further away from entrances, eg at the supermarket or workplace,
- Use the stairs rather than the elevator,
- Take a walk at break times, and
- Enjoy a stroll in the evening, for instance after dinner, with family or friends.
The above story is based on the November 21, 2012 news release by The North American Menopause Society (NAMS)
The research has been published online ahead of print in Menopause, the journal of the NAMS:
Colpani V, Oppermann K, Spritzer PM. Association between habitual physical activity and lower cardiovascular risk in premenopausal, perimenopausal, and postmenopausal women: a population-based study. Menopause. 2012 Nov 19. [Epub ahead of print]