A recent study shows that women who are physically active have significantly lower rates of heart disease. New research indicates that spending 150 minutes week doing light physical activity, such as brisk walking, reduces the risk of coronary heart disease by at least 25 per cent in women who are below 50 years of age. This study, carried out by the American Heart Association (AHA), and published in their Journal, was undertaken on women aged between 27-44 years. Researchers found that those who had the highest level of non-strenuous, light physical activity had a lower incidence of coronary heart disease. The only parameters required seemed to be that total weekly time should be at least 150 minutes, and the actual frequency of physical activity did not impact the outcome. This was irrespective of the earlier body weight or fitness level of the participants. This is because being active enhances levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), also called good cholesterol, which keeps the vascular system functioning smoothly. Additional benefits of regular physical activity are the prevention or reduction of incidences of stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, and even some types of cancer and arthritis. So what activities can you undertake which are of moderate intensity? Moderate aerobic activity includes brisk walking at a rate of approximately 3 miles an hour, swimming, bicycling 10 miles an hour or faster, jumping rope, hiking uphill or with a backpack, or mowing the lawn. You can judge if the activity is of moderate intensity by ensuring that you are walking fast enough to raise your heart rate and breaking into a sweat within 10 minutes of sustained activity. You will be able to talk and carry on a conversation, but cannot sing a song easily. You will not be walking so fast that you are out of breath. You can also do a combination of moderate activity with some vigorous exercise. If you wish to lose weight as well, then you will burn more calories the more intense or vigorous your exercise level is. Strength training a couple of times a week will also greatly increase your fitness levels. What you do is entirely upto you! Just make sure that you enjoy what you are doing, and do not think of it as a punishment. If you are new to exercising then you should start light and not overdo it. A short 10 minute walk a day is a good way to start moving. Gradually work up to 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, so that you reach the minimum requirement of 150 minutes a week. Make sure that your walking is brisk enough so that you are sweating, but not very profusely. You should be able to feel your heart rate going higher. Once you make this a regular part of your routine, you will find that your day is incomplete without it! Gradually you will realise that your energy levels are higher, you feel happier and are able to sleep better. If you ensure that you eat a light and balanced diet then you will find that you can drop a few pounds as well. Fitness is a lifetime commitment, and your heart will thank you for this decision!