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Walking faster can keep your heart healthy

Monitoring Desk

ISLAMABAD: Among various cardio exercises, walking is considered to be especially beneficial. A new study adds to the evidence and says that walking faster can help you live longer.

The research, led by the University of Sydney, sought to determine the associations between walking pace with cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality. The study showed that walking at an average pace was associated with a 20% risk reduction for mortality. Walking at a brisk or fast pace was associated with a risk reduction of 24%. A similar result was found for risk of cardiovascular disease mortality, with a reduction of 24% for walking at an average pace and 21% walking at a brisk or fast pace, compared to walking at a slow pace.

The protective effects of walking were more pronounced in older age groups. Average pace walkers aged 60 years or over experienced a 46% reduction in risk of death from cardiovascular causes, and fast pace walkers a 53% reduction.

“A fast pace is generally five to seven kilometres per hour, but it depends on a walker’s fitness levels. An alternative indicator is to walk at a pace that makes you slightly out of breath or sweaty,” said lead author Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis. He added that in situations when walking more isn’t possible, either due to less time or the lack of a walking-friendly environment, walking faster may be a good option to get the heart rate up.

The study appears in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Four other health benefits of walking

Researchers from the University of Cambridge, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Imperial College London in the UK did a study which showed that people who walk or cycle to work have a significantly lower risk of death due to heart disease or stroke, compared to those who commute by car.

Walking for at least 40 minutes several times a week at an average to fast pace is associated with a near 25% drop in the risk of heart failure among post-menopausal women, according to a study done by the Saint Vincent Hospital in the US.

A 2018 study found that moderate intensity activity can have greater health benefits in comparison to exercises which push you to your limit. So, even a 10-minute walk can be healthier for you than taking 10,000 steps a day.

Walking causes a temporary increase in the heart rate, which helps to train the heart to become a more efficient and stronger pump. It also helps to burn more calories. With increase in heart rate, the heart will pump more blood, leading to increased blood circulation through body, bringing more oxygen and nutrients to all organs and muscles. During walking, blood vessels may become more relaxed, or dilated, to allow for the increased blood flow.

 

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