Importance: To our knowledge, no studies have examined light physical activity (PA) measured by accelerometry and heart disease in older women.
Objective: To investigate whether higher levels of light PA were associated with reduced risks of coronary heart disease (CHD) or cardiovascular disease (CVD) in older women.
Design, setting, and participants: Prospective cohort study of older women from baseline (March 2012 to April 2014) through February 28, 2017, for up to 4.91 years. The setting was community-dwelling participants from the Women's Health Initiative. Participants were ambulatory women with no history of myocardial infarction or stroke.
Exposures: Data from accelerometers worn for a requested 7 days were used to measure light PA.
Main outcomes and measures: Cox proportional hazards regression models estimated hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% CIs for physician-adjudicated CHD and CVD events across light PA quartiles adjusting for possible confounders. Light PA was also analyzed as a continuous variable with and without adjustment for moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA).
Results: Among 5861 women (mean [SD] age, 78.5 [6.7] years), 143 CHD events and 570 CVD events were observed. The HRs for CHD in the highest vs lowest quartiles of light PA were 0.42 (95% CI, 0.25-0.70; P for trend <.001) adjusted for age and race/ethnicity and 0.58 (95% CI, 0.34-0.99; P for trend = .004) after additional adjustment for education, current smoking, alcohol consumption, physical functioning, comorbidity, and self-rated health. Corresponding HRs for CVD in the highest vs lowest quartiles of light PA were 0.63 (95% CI, 0.49-0.81; P for trend <.001) and 0.78 (95% CI, 0.60-1.00; P for trend = .004). The HRs for a 1-hour/day increment in light PA after additional adjustment for MVPA were 0.86 (95% CI, 0.73-1.00; P for trend = .05) for CHD and 0.92 (95% CI, 0.85-0.99; P for trend = .03) for CVD.
Conclusions and relevance: The present findings support the conclusion that all movement counts for the prevention of CHD and CVD in older women. Large, pragmatic randomized trials are needed to test whether increasing light PA among older women reduces cardiovascular risk.