Heart disease continues to be the number one cause of death in America, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it. A new study has found that integrating a regular walking routine into your daily life is enough to help lower your risk of heart failure by improving cardiovascular risk factors.
Researcher Pamela Stewart Fahs explained, “We know walking is an excellent form of exercise, but research has been mixed on how successful a walking program can be in changing biological markers such as cholesterol, weight, blood pressure.”
The study was conducted on a group of 70 women who were given pedometers to wear during their waking hours over a 10-week period. The women were asked to walk briskly for at least 150 minutes a week (about 21 minutes a day), and the collected data was then analyzed to assess their of a heart event in the next 10 years.
At the five-week mark, women were asked if they wanted to increase their aerobic activity for the remainder of the study. This was done by increasing the number of steps they walked by at least 10 percent for the remaining five weeks.
Once the 10 weeks lapsed, the researchers measured the participants’ body mass index, blood pressure, and cholesterol – risk factors for heart disease. The women also completed surveys about their activity levels, food choices, and personal characteristics and behaviors over the last 10 weeks.
The results confirmed the researchers’ hypothesis about short-term improvement of heart disease risk factors associated with walking.
Fahs explained, “I believe there is a need to test for effects of a built-in challenge within a program to see if that helps motivate participants to participate longer and/or produces more successful outcomes. In addition, work needs to be done to see how best to keep rural women engaged in meaningful exercise for longer periods of time.”
The researchers recommend the replication of the study with more diverse population to reaffirm the findings.
The study demonstrates that heart health can be improved – and oftentimes, it’s something as simple as walking. We know that prolonged sitting is detrimental to health, so finding time throughout the day to get in more walking can go a long way in improving heart health.