More than half of women with cardiovascular disease (CVD) do not do enough physical activity—and the percentage has grown over the last decade, according to a study reported in JAMA Network Open. The researchers analyzed data collected over 10 years (2006 to 2015) from a nationally representative sample of 18,027 women, ages 18 to 75, with established CVD.
Sixty-two percent of the women reported suboptimal physical activity in 2014-2015, up from 58 percent in 2006-2007. (Recommended physical activity was defined as 30 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous exercise, five or more days per week.) Inactivity was more prevalent among African American and Hispanic women, women of low income or with less than a high school education, and women over 40.
The researchers also found that total health care expenditures were nearly one-third lower among women who met the recommended physical activity guidelines compared to those who did not meet the guidelines. Since this was an observational study, it can’t establish causality, however; it’s possible that factors other than exercise accounted for the lower health care costs among physically active women.
The authors concluded that “specific interventions targeting older women, those from lower socioeconomic status, and racial/ethnic minorities should be implemented” to enable more women in these groups to fulfill the recommended physical activity guidelines and potentially lower their health care costs as a result.