Although previous research showed the value of structured exercise in lowering the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, this study shows habitual physical activity, whether it comes from exercising or just activities of daily living, can improve women's health.
The study involved 292 women ages 45-72 living in Passo Fundo, Brazil, who wore pedometers and recorded their daily steps. The women also had health checks such as cholesterol and blood sugar and waist and hip measurement -- to gauge abdominal obesity, which is a risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The study found women who took 6,000 or more steps per day were considered active and those who took fewer inactive. They didn't provide an average number of steps taken daily by women or the distanced traveled in an average step.
The physically active women were much less likely than the inactive ones to be obese and have metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes.
The findings were published in the journal Menopause.