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A brisk walk is healthier than running

Published on 05 April 2013 02:30 PM

You don't have to go on a long, gruelling run to get the greatest health benefits - a brisk walk is actually more effective at reducing heart disease, according to a US study.


Both activities are good for you but when the energy expenditure of both is balanced out, walking is found to have the edge.

Data from 33,060 runners and 15,045 walkers aged between 18 and 80 was compared, and for the same amount of energy used, walkers experienced greater health benefits than runners.

The relevant statistics

Running reduced the risk of heart disease by 4.5%, while walking cut it by 9.3%. Walking also had more of an impact on heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol.

The risk of first-time high blood pressure was reduced by 4.2% by running and 7.2% by walking, whil,e first-time high cholesterol risk was lowered by 4.3% by running and 7% by walking.

The risk of first-time diabetes was cut by about 12% by both walking and running, according to the research, published in heart journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.

Science behind the results

Study leader Dr Paul Williams, from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, said walking and running provide an ideal test of the health benefits of exercise because they involve the same muscle groups and the same activities performed at different intensities.

The Disconnected Mind study, funded by the Age UK at the University of Edinburgh, has shown that exercise and protection of brain function in later life are linked.

Professor James Goodwin, Head of Research at Age UK, said: 'We already know that exercise is important in reducing our risk of some illnesses that come with ageing, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.

'The Disconnected Mind study re-emphasises that it really is never too late to benefit from exercise, so whether it's a brisk walk to the shops, gardening or competing in a fun run it is crucial that, those of us who can, get active as we grow older.'

Benefits of aerobic activity

Doireann Maddock, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said the study shows that any brisk physical activity, not just long runs, can be great for heart health.

'We know the best type of activity for your heart is moderate-intensity aerobic activity and that includes walking, as long as you feel warmer, breathe harder and your heart beats faster than usual,' she said.

'Whether it's walking, jogging or running, staying active will help control your weight, reduce blood pressure and cholesterol and improve your mental health. In other words, you'll look and feel great and reduce your risk of a heart attack and stroke too.'

Copyright Press Association 2013


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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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