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Association between habitual physical activity and lower cardiovascular risk in premenopausal, perimenopausal, and postmenopausal women: a population-based study

Colpani, Verônica PT1; Oppermann, Karen MD, PhD2,3; Spritzer, Poli Mara MD, PhD1,3,4

doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e318271b388
Original Articles

Objective Menopause is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Habitual physical activity, defined as any form of body movement with energy expenditure above resting levels, may improve health parameters. We assessed the level of habitual physical activity and its effect on anthropometric measures and cardiovascular risk factors in a cohort of premenopausal, perimenopausal, and postmenopausal women.

Methods This cross-sectional study is nested on a longitudinal population-based study that was begun in 1995 in the city of Passo Fundo, Brazil. For the present analysis, 292 women were included. Anthropometric and metabolic profile was evaluated. Habitual physical activity was assessed by a digital pedometer for 7 days, and participants were stratified into active and inactive (≥6,000 and <6,000 steps/day, respectively).

Results The mean (SD) age was 57.1 (5.4) years. The average number of steps per day for the total sample was 5,250.7 (3,372.9): 3,472.4 (1,570.2) in the inactive group (61.8%) and 9,055.9 (3,033.4) in the active group (31.9%). A negative and statistically significant correlation was found between physical activity and smoking (P = −0.019), body mass index (P = −0.006), waist circumference (P = −0.013), and waist-to-hip ratio of 0.85 or higher (P = −0.043). Inactive women presented a higher risk of overweight/obesity (odds ratio [OR], 2.1; 95% CI, 1.233-3.622; P = 0.006) and waist circumference larger than 88 cm (OR, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.054-2.942; P = 0.03), even after adjustment for age, menopause status, smoking, and hormone therapy. Inactive women also had a higher risk of diabetes mellitus (OR, 2.7; 95% CI, 1.233-6.295; P = 0.014) and metabolic syndrome (OR, 2.5, 95% CI, 1.443-4.294; P = 0.001).

Conclusions Habitual physical activity, specifically walking 6,000 or more steps daily, was associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes in middle-aged women, independently of menopause status.

From the 1Gynecological Endocrinology Unit, Division of Endocrinology, Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil; 2Medicine School of Universidade de Passo Fundo and São Vicente de Paulo Hospital, Passo Fundo, RS, Brazil; 3National Institute of Hormones and Women’s Health, Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil; and 4Laboratory of Molecular Endocrinology, Department of Physiology, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil.

Received June 13, 2012; revised and accepted August 29, 2012.

This experiment complied with current Brazilians laws applicable to research studies.

Funding/support: This study was supported by a grant from Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (INCT 573747/2008-3).

Financial disclosure/conflicts of interest: None reported.

Address correspondence to: Poli Mara Spritzer, MD, PhD, Division of Endocrinology, Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre, Rua Ramiro Barcelos, 2350, Porto Alegre 90035-003, RS, Brazil. E-mail:

© 2013 by The North American Menopause Society.