Posted on Mar 17, 2018, 3 a.m.
6.5 million adults are estimated to have heart failure. The risk rises with age, women 75-84 are at 3 times the risk as compared to women 65-74 years of age. Going on walks 2-3 times per week for at least 40 minutes or longer can help protect against heart failure, and is associated with close to a 25% drop among post menopausal women, appearing to be consistent regardless of weight or if participating in any other physical activity.
It has already established that physical activity is beneficial in many ways, but there is a common misconception that simply walking isn’t enough to be beneficial. This study shows that walking is in fact beneficial, not only is it an accessible form of exercise, but it is also almost equal to all different type of exercises that have been studies in the past in regards to terms of lowering the risk of heart failure.
Walking can be done at any time, at no cost, pretty much any place, without any special equipment, making it a meaningful free mode of physical activity easily accessible for older people, especially older women who may be hesitant to join a gym or start an exercise workout routine.
The study was conducted based on the analysis of data collected on female participants aged 50-79 who were able to walk at least one block, and were without heart failure, cancer, or coronary artery disease. Using information from participants questionnaires women were grouped into walking behaviours categorized according to speed, frequency, and duration. Overall energy expenditure level was assessed by researchers from walking by combination of all 3 variables into a Metabolic Equivalent of Task calculation. Participants in the highest tertile for Metabolic Equivalent of Task per week were 25% less likely to develop heart failure.
Findings suggest that walking speed, frequency, and duration all contribute equally to the overall benefit. Participants who walked at least 2 times per week had 20-25% lower risk, participants who walked 40 minutes or more each time had a 21-25% lower risk, participants who walked at and average or fast pace had a 26-38% lower risk of heart failure. Results were consistent across different age groups, ethnicities, and body weight in post menopausal women, suggesting that findings can be generalized to apply to most women 50+ years of age.
Analysis accounted for a variety of factors such as alcohol use, smoking, use of hormones, family and medical history, and overall amount of physical activity. Walking behavior was assessed based on participants self reporting. The team was not able to account for any potential effects of walking or exercise habits earlier in life.
Materials provided by American College of Cardiology.
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