I love it when this happens. A study looks at something which makes complete sense intellectually, and confirms it scientifically. As a science geek and someone who appreciates simple answers to simple questions, this just feels good. Obvious example: inhaling smoke into your lungs is bad.
Sometimes studies do take me by surprise. Recent example: 3-4 cups of coffee a day decreases risk of melanoma — probably because you are in coffee shops all day and not out in the sunshine. Here’s the gist of a study which is important as a reminder, and also as more evidence healthy living makes a big difference. Go get a carrot to munch on while you read it.
A recent study from the American College of Cardiology looked at young women — young, as in, my age — heart disease and lifestyle. Why young women you may ask? While death from heart disease has been on the decline for the past 40 years or so, women aged 35-44 have not experienced the same reduction. Heart disease in women is prevalent, and not shockingly, living a healthier life is preventative against heart attacks.
The study looked at about 70,000 women over the course of 20 years and found that the following six factors can reduce the risk of heart attacks in women by 75%.
— NO smoking (I always have to fight the urge to type, “Well, duh!” after I write that.)
— At least 2.5 hours of physical activity per week
— Maintaining a normal BMI
— Having a healthy diet (as measured by the Harvard School of Public Health healthy eating plate)
— Drinking max of one glass of alcohol a day on average
— Watching seven or fewer hours of television per week (it will be interesting to know how time in front of other screens affects risk in the future)
Women who adhered to all 6, had a 92% lower chance of heart attack and a 66% lower chance of developing risk factors for heart disease. Adhering to 4 (now, that’s more my speed) also significantly lowers the risk.
Here’s the takeaway: just because you are relatively young and really busy, is no excuse for ignoring your heart. I, for one, want to at least live long enough for someone to take care of me for a change. At the rate I’m going, this will be when I’m 92. I’m going to go run up and down the stairs a few times.