PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A new study has revealed the first line of defense against heart disease for women over 30 is staying active.

The research, which was conducted by the University of Queensland in Australia and published in the May 8 issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine, looked at data from more than 32,000 women.

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For women under 30, the biggest risk factor was smoking, but physical inactivity was the leading risk factor for heart disease in every other age group, from 30 to late 80s, outweighing even high BMI.

“Programmes for the promotion and maintenance of physical activity deserve to be a much higher public health priority for women than they are now, across the adult lifespan,” researchers conclude.

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Doctors also told that despite the fact that the study involved Australian women, American women should also take it to heart – no pun intended.

“They’re both very developed countries, and developed countries tend to have the same general themes of health issues,” said Dr. Michael Scott Emery, a cardiologist in Greenville, S.C. and the co-chair of the American College of Cardiology’s Sports and Exercise Cardiology Council, who was interviewed for the piece.

For more on the study, click here.

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