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Walking reduces heart attack and stroke risk

Forget aerobics, running, Crossfit, Mud runs, cycling or Zumba. In a recent article published by the Daily Mail, one simple way to reduce your chance of heart attacks and strokes is simply to walk.



According to researchers in a study published by the Lancet Medical Journal, if you can walk 20 minutes each day at a moderate pace or an extra 2000 steps, on top of your normal activities, you could reduce your chance of a heart attack by as much as 8%.

The study leader Dr Thomas Yates, of the Diabetes Research Unit at Leicester University, claimed, however, that if you can discipline yourself to make an extra 4,000 extra steps, which equates to 40 minutes of additional daily walking, the benefit of this increased movement “matches the benefits from taking a statin,” and can reduce your risk of a heart attack by as much as 16-20%.

Yates notes, however, that the benefits do not just stop there. Statins also have negative side effects and only reduce your cholesterol levels. Physical activity, such as walking, however, offers “a much bigger range of health benefits.”

Lancet Medical Journal study on walking


 

To conduct the study on physical activity researchers analyzed 9,306 adults from 40 countries who had impaired glucose tolerance (IGT). Researchers used a pedometer to measure the participant’s average number of steps each day and week. Measurements were taken at the beginning and the end of the study.

Researchers isolated a variety of factors such as body-mass index, smoking status, diet, clinical history, and medication use and the risk of subsequent cardiovascular disease. During the study 531 cardiovascular events such as heart attacks were recorded.

Researchers found that participants who had the greatest activity level when they started the study had the lowest risk at the end of the year, but if they increased their walking their chance of a cardiovascular event decreased further. They also noted that for each additional 2000 steps taken a day over one year-roughly equivalent to 20 min a day of moderately-paced walking, the greater the reduction of a heart attack or stroke.

Will I get benefits of walking if I am currently inactive?


 

One of the greatest findings of this study is that regardless of the current activity level of the participant, just by increasing the number of steps they walk each day the lower the risk of stroke or heart attack.

Dr Richard Elliot, research communications officer at Diabetes UK charity, believes this is a substantial finding, one which can be used to combat the growing proliferation of cardiovascular problems, stroke, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

So what does this study mean for you? Even if you are on Social Security Disability and you cannot engage in strenuous physical activity, it’s important to get up and move throughout the day. Making some simple, easy changes - such as an extra 20 minutes of walking a day – can significantly improve your health and lower your chance of a heart attack.