Walking similar to running when it comes to heart health

Individuals looking to improve their heart health and avoid diabetes would do just as well taking a brisk walk around the neighborhood as they would on a vigorous run, new research shows.

Health experts have long debated which exercise is better for health, but data from the National Runner's Health Study and the National Walker's Study show that both walking and running show similar results when it comes to preventing hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes and coronary heart disease.

The study

More than 30,000 runners and 15,000 walkers were analyzed for the study, which describes that the same energy and muscles are used for moderate intensity walking and vigorous running, and that frequency — not necessarily intensity — is important for experiencing the most health benefits.

For hypertension, running was shown to reduce risk by 4.2 percent compared to 7.2 percent with walking. For high cholesterol, running reduced risk by 4.3 percent and walking 7 percent. And for diabetes, running and walking reduced first-time diagnosis risk by 12.1 and 12.3 percent, respectively.

"The more the runners ran and the walkers walked, the better off they were in health benefits," said Paul T. Williams, Ph.D., the study's principal author and staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Life Science Division in Berkeley, Calif. "If the amount of energy expended was the same between the two groups, then the health benefits were comparable."

To run or to walk?

Williams notes that people are "always looking for an excuse not to exercise," but that this new research confirms that even the average person can get up and move to prevent disease.

"Walking may be a more sustainable activity for some people when compared to running, however, those who choose running end up exercising twice as much as those that choose walking," Williams said. "This is probably because they can do twice as much in an hour."

The study is published in the American Heart Association Journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.

Source: Science Daily

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