Hate running? Have an injury that makes running difficult? Walk it off – a recent study published by the American Heart Association (AHA) found that walking for heart health can be an effective alternative to running. Just like a run, a brisk walk can lower your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes – all conditions which are not good for your heart.
Researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Life Science Division in Berkley, California analyzed 33,060 runners from the National Runners’ Health Study and 15,045 walkers from the National Walkers’ Health Study for six years. Researchers recorded how much energy participants expended by the distance each runner or walker covered.
Researchers found that the same energy used for moderate intensity walking and vigorous intensity running resulted in reduced risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and possibly even coronary heart disease. The more participants either walked or ran, the greater the benefits. In other words, mile by mile, walking for heart health can be an effective alternative to running for heart health.
Specifically, researchers found:
- Running significantly reduced the risk for hypertension by 4.2% while walking reduced the risk by 7.2%
- Running reduced the chances of having high cholesterol by 4.3% and walking reduced risk by 7%
- Running lowered risk of diabetes by 12.1% while walking dropped the risk by 12.3%
- Running reduced coronary heart disease risk by 4.5% compared to a reduced risk of 9.3% for walking
Walking targets the same muscle groups as running.. Running is a more intense activity, so runners are able to burn more calories and exercise the heart in a shorter amount of time. Still, more people may find walking to be a more appealing and more sustainable form of exercise.  As long as exercise is consistent, both walkers and runners can enjoy lasting benefits on their health.
The AHA recommends 30 minutes of physical activity per day – at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. Here are a few ways to incorporate more walking into your daily life:
- Take the dog for a walk around the neighborhood
- Bring family or friends to the park
- Window shop in town or at the mall
- Use the stairs at work or in your apartment building instead of the elevator
- Park farther from the entrance of buildings
If you’ve struggled to get into the routine of running, start walking more often. Learn more about walking for heart health by talking to your doctor and see if MegaRed can fit into your heart health regimen.