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Prescriptions for exercise given to "less active'' women offer significant health and quality of life benefits, a New Zealand study has shown.
The two-year study, led by the University of Otago, followed more than 1000 women aged 40-74 who, with the support of a nurse and support line, were encouraged to become more active.
Heart Foundation medical director Professor Norman Sharpe said cardiovascular disease was the number one killer of women in New Zealand, causing around seven deaths each day.
Despite this, 74 percent of women believed their biggest risk was breast cancer.
"We want to alert women to these statistics, encourage them to talk to their doctor about their heart health,'' Prof Sharpe said.
Study head, Dr Beverly Lawton said there was "widespread acceptance'' of the benefits of exercise for women over 40 which included reducing the risk of heart and lung disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
While the long term benefits of exercise were evident, a few short term problems popped up with those involved reporting an increase in falls and injuries brought on by their new, dynamic lifestyles.