The study involved 25,000 female participants followed over the course of 17 years. It found that participants who walked 2 to 3 miles (about 3.2 to 4.8 kilometers) were more protected from heart failure by 27%, compared to those with average walking speeds of under 2 miles per hour.
Those who maintained a faster pace (over 3 miles an hour) were less likely to suffer heart failure by 34%.
According to chief researcher Dr. Charles Eaton, this confirmed other studies that showed how important walking speed is to reducing mortality and other heart-related outcomes.
Walking for heart health need only be done for a shorter time than other types of physical activity – 150 minutes per week, or 30 minutes five days a week.
How does physical activity benefit my heart?
One of the best ways to prevent heart attack and stroke is to keep moving, avoid smoking and maintain the proper weight for you.
The pros of physical activity also include higher “good” HDL cholesterol levels, healthy weight maintenance, reduced blood pressure, and blood sugar regulation. Walking for heart health could also boost the number of smaller blood vessels through which blood can pass if major coronary arteries are blocked. These are called collateral blood vessels.
In fact, in an earlier study published in the scientific journal Circulation, researchers found that two years of exercise training four to five times a week improved oxygen uptake by 18% and 25% better “plasticity” in the left ventricular muscle of the heart. This is particularly useful for middle-aged people with heart failure leading sedentary lifestyles.
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