If every woman aged between 30 and 90 followed recommended guidelines on exercise, around 2,000 lives could be saved each year in Australia alone, say researchers. It’s thought a similar number could be saved in the UK as the populations, smoking and exercise rates are similar.
A team from the University of Queensland in Australia tracked the health of more than 30,000 women born in the 1920s, 40s and 70s. The research, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, found that for women aged over 30, exercise was a more important factor than obesity and even smoking in the development of heart disease.
Heart disease, which includes heart attacks and strokes, causes 82,000 deaths a year in Britain.
‘We need a lot more effort to keep middle-aged women active and then keep them active into old age,’ said Professor Wendy Brown, of the Centre for Research on Exercise, Physical Activity and Health.
Jodi Desikan, 63, has been doing Nordic walking regularly since taking part in a free Fit as a Fiddle course run by Age Concern Kingston three and a half years ago.
‘As I have a severe back problem, Nordic walking is a perfect exercise for me and I have also lost two and a half stones in weight since I started. I got my own set of poles as soon as I finished my five- week course with ACK. I believed that if I had my own set of poles, I will make myself do more than one walk a week.’
Jodi now walks three times a week in Richmond Park.
Heart disease is linked to other factors such as smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Charlotte Rehn, a Nordic walking instructor with ACK observes:
‘Fit as a Fiddle helps people change their lives and health.’
Fit as a Fiddle workshops include advice on healthy lifestyles and weight loss. And it’s not just about exercise.
‘I have made new friends as a result of Nordic walking and walk with a different set of friends in my three walks a week,’ says Jodi. ‘I have gone Nordic walking in Amalfi in Italy and Alicante in Spain last year. In fact I am now trying to get a new set of adjustable poles so that I can carry them in my suitcase when I go on holidays.’
Fit as a Fiddle is funded by the Royal Borough of Kingston’s Public Health department.