"It's pretty striking what happens to you if you don't meet that 30 minutes a day of activity," Cardinal said. "Women in our sample had better health behavior they were much less likely to smoke for instance, but the lack of activity still puts them at risk."
Cardinal said depression puts people at more risk of abdominal fat and insulin resistance, and both are risk factors for metabolic syndrome.
"Physical activity has been shown to reduce depression," he said. "So the key message here is to get that 30 minutes of exercise every day because it reduces a great deal of risk factors."
While their study does not address why women were not getting enough exercise, the authors said research shows that physical activity patterns often begin in childhood.
"Research has shown that around ages 5 or 6 these patterns begin," Cardinal said. "Parents tend to be more concerned with the safety of girls, and have more restrictive practices around outdoor time and playtime than with boys."
Loprinzi said this pattern tends to continue into adulthood, and that overall confidence may be a factor.
"Some evidence indicates that women, compared to men, have less confidence in their ability to overcome their exercise-related barriers," Loprinzi said, adding that women also often cite a lack of time to exercise due to child-rearing.
The researchers have a study coming out that may help those time-challenged women. Loprinzi said he and Cardinal found that adults can still enhance their health by accumulating physical activity in short periods throughout the day, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or pacing while talking on the phone.
|Contact: Bradley Cardinal|
Oregon State University