New research indicates that even small amounts of physical activity, approximately 75 minutes a week, can help improve the fitness levels for postmenopausal women who are sedentary and overweight or obese, according to a study in the May 16 issue of JAMA.
Low levels of cardiorespiratory fitness are associated with high risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and death, and improvements in fitness are associated with a reduction in these risks. Physical activity habits are the primary determinant of fitness in adults and changes in physical activity result in changes in fitness, according to background information in the article. However, there is a poor understanding of the relationship between levels of physical activity and the change in fitness levels.
Timothy S. Church, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., of the Louisiana State University System, Baton Rouge, La., and colleagues examined the effect of 50 percent, 100 percent, and 150 percent of the NIH Consensus Panel physical activity recommendations on cardiorespiratory fitness in sedentary, overweight or obese postmenopausal women with elevated blood pressure. The Panel recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week. The study included 464 sedentary, postmenopausal overweight or obese women whose body mass index ranged from 25.0 to 43.0 and whose systolic blood pressure ranged from 120.0 to 159.9 mm Hg. Enrollment took place between April 2001 and June 2005.
Participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 groups: 102 to the nonexercise control group, 155 to the 4-kcal/kg (400 calories), 104 to the 8-kcal/kg (800 calories), and 103 to the 12-kcal/kg (1,200 calories) per week energy-expenditure groups for the 6-month intervention period. Target training intensity was the heart rate associated with 50 percent (a modest intensity) of each womans peak VO2 (a measure of oxygen consumption and fitness level).
The average minute
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