People who go on a fast daily walk have been found to have a 50 per cent lower chance of having a heart attack or stroke than those who don’t. This power walking was even found to be more effective than jogging, which lowered it by 40 per cent.
Walking daily but at a leisurely pace was found to have little to no effect on heart attack or stroke risk, suggesting it’s intensity rather than time when it comes to exercise.
The findings were published by Danish scientists in the BMJ Open. They spent a decade studying the health of 4,000 volunteers aged between 21 and 98.
The scientists compared the chances of developing ‘metabolic syndrome’, a term that collectively describes a number of conditions including obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Those with metabolic syndrome are more likely to suffer from heart attack or stroke as they get older.
The report stated: “Signiﬁcantly lower risk of metabolic syndrome was found in the moderately and highly physically active groups compared to their sedentary counterparts.”
But the team added: “Light physical activity and even more than one hour of walking daily did not confer protection against metabolic syndrome.”
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The important difference between a slow stroll and a more intense brisk or ‘power’ walk is that a faster walk increases the heart rate. The heart is a muscle, so it needs working out and getting it to move faster is the key to preventing heart attack and stroke.
Senior Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation Maureen Talbot said: “If you want to make the walk to work or to the shops part of keeping your heart healthy then try turning it from a leisurely stroll into a power walk to get the benefits.”