Walk away from heart failure

Published: by Interim HealthCare in Chronic Disease

Along with a healthy diet, regular exercise is the most natural way to manage and prevent chronic disease. Researchers continue to hone their knowledge on which exercises are associated with the most health advantages for particular conditions.

According to a recent study from the American College of Cardiology, regular walking may have significant benefits for preventing heart failure in postmenopausal women.

Consistent walking for lower risk

The researchers analyzed 89,000 women for more than 10 years to determine the ideal walking frequency, duration and speed to reduce the risk of heart failure. Each participant was between the ages of 50 and 79 at the beginning of the study.

The women filled out health questionnaires detailing their walking behavior. After analyzing the responses, the researchers concluded that those who walked at least twice a week had a 20 to 25 percent lower risk, while those who walked for 40 minutes or more were 21 to 25 less likely to develop heart failure. Women who walked at an average pace had a 26 to 38 percent lower risk, when compared to those moving at a casual speed.

The researchers also calculated overall energy expenditure by combining the frequency, duration and speed of their walking habits. The women with the highest energy expenditure were 25 percent less likely to experience heart failure. All of the results were consistent across age, ethnicity and body weight. Plus, the analysis also accounted for heart disease risk factors, including smoking, alcohol consumption, medical history and hormones.

Therefore, the researchers concluded with confidence that the golden combination for reducing heart failure risk in postmenopausal women is walking for at least 40 minutes several times a week at an average fast pace. They will present these findings at the ACC's 67th Annual Scientific Session this year.

Benefits of walking

These findings are promising for women because walking is a feasible exercise that doesn't require a gym or financial expenditure. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week to improve cardiovascular health. The results from this study should deter any misconceptions that walking alone isn't enough to be considered this moderate exercise. In fact, Prevention magazine highlighted long-distance running on pavement and vigorous exercises without proper training as some of the worst exercises for heart health.

Thus, women over 50 should strongly consider adding walking to their weekly routines. Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S., which means this simple change could be the difference between a healthy heart and a potentially life-threatening situation

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