Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle is too weak to pump blood effectively. Symptoms typically include fatigue, fluid retention, and shortness of breath among others. It is a serious condition. New research suggests that, for women, walking may be enough to help prevent it.
This study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, examined data of over 137,000 postmenopausal women. Out of this number, 2,500 of them developed heart failure. They grouped the women based on how much they exercised each week.
Women with some physical activity were 11% less likely to have heart failure compared to those with none. The women who were the most active had a 35% less risk of developing heart failure. These standards were measured by converting their reported exercise levels into metabolic equivalent of task (MET) hours. This measurement is used to assess the intensity of physical activities. The average woman in this study did 13 MET hours per week. This does not mean they exercised for 13 hours a week, just that the intensity of their activity added up to that many MET hours.
The data also showed that walking seemed to work as well as more vigorous exercise. These are big findings. However, the data gathered about exercise was self-reported, which can skew the results a little. Regardless, it’s never too late to start exercising. Check with your doctor first about what is suitable for you to do based on your current health and history.
Source: Jessup, Mariell, and Nosheen Reza. “Walking Away From Heart Failure.” Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Heart Failure, 5 Sept. 2018, heartfailure.onlinejacc.org/content/early/2018/09/04 /j.jchf.2018.07.005.