[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 4-Apr-2013
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Contact: Karen Astle
karen.astle@heart.org
214-706-1392
American Heart Association

Walking can lower risk of heart-related conditions as much as running

American Heart Association Rapid Access Journal Report

Walking briskly can lower your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes as much as running can, according to surprising findings reported in the American Heart Association journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.

Researchers analyzed 33,060 runners in the National Runners' Health Study and 15,045 walkers in the National Walkers' Health Study. They found that the same energy used for moderate intensity walking and vigorous intensity running resulted in similar reductions in risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and possibly coronary heart disease over the study's six years.

"Walking and running provide an ideal test of the health benefits of moderate-intensity walking and vigorous-intensity running because they involve the same muscle groups and the same activities performed at different intensities," 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.

Unlike previous studies, the researchers assessed walking and running expenditure by distance, not by time. Participants provided activity data by responding to questionnaires.

"The more the runners ran and the walkers walked, the better off they were in health benefits. If the amount of energy expended was the same between the two groups, then the health benefits were comparable," Williams said.

Comparing energy expenditure to self-reported, physician-diagnosed incident hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes and coronary heart disease, researchers found:

"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. This is probably because they can do twice as much in an hour," Williams said.

Study participants were 18 to 80 years old, clustered in their 40s and 50s. Men represented 21 percent of the walkers and 51.4 percent of the runners.

"People are always looking for an excuse not to exercise, but now they have a straightforward choice to run or to walk and invest in their future health," Williams said.

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Co-author is Paul D. Thompson, M.D. Author disclosures are on the manuscript.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute funded the study.

For more information on how to increase your level of physical activity, follow the American Heart Association's Get Moving: Easy tips to get active.

For the latest heart and stroke news, follow us on Twitter: @HeartNews.

For updates and new science from Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, follow @atvbahajournals.

Statements and conclusions of study authors published in American Heart Association scientific journals are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect the association's policy or position. The association makes no representation or guarantee as to their accuracy or reliability. The association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific association programs and events. The association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations are available at http://www.heart.org/corporatefunding.



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