A recent study conducted by researchers from The University of Queensland in Australia has revealed that young women can “bank” the benefits of exercise to improve their heart health as they age. The study, which examined longitudinal data from 479 women, tracked their physical activity levels from their early 20s to their mid-40s.
Dr. Gregore Iven Mielke from UQ’s School of Public Health explained, “We wanted to explore whether women could ‘grow’ their physical activity, like bank savings, for enhanced cardiovascular health, and it appears they can.”
The findings, published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, showed that women in their 40s who had been the most active during their youth had an average resting heart rate of approximately 72 beats per minute (bpm). In contrast, those who had been the least active from their 20s to 40s had an average resting heart rate of around 78 bpm. While this difference may seem small, previous research has linked even a 1 bpm increase in resting heart rate to higher mortality rates.
A lower resting heart rate indicates more efficient heart function. The study suggests that regular physical activity, regardless of when it begins, provides long-lasting cardiovascular benefits for women. The researchers advocate for public health initiatives to promote an active lifestyle for women in their 20s and 30s, with the positive health effects continuing into later life.
Understanding the cumulative effects of physical activity over a lifetime is especially crucial for women, given the impact of pregnancy and childbirth on activity levels. The study underscores the importance of exercise for preventing cardiovascular diseases throughout a woman’s life.
Re-reported from the article originally published in The Agency News Desk