Walking is associated with a greater than 50 percent reduction in cardiovascular death in people over the age of 65, says a new study.
“Our study provides further evidence that older adults who are physically active have a lower risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and death from cardiovascular disease,” said one of the researchers, Riitta Antikainen, professor of geriatrics at the University of Oulu, Finland.
“The protective effect of leisure time physical activity is dose dependent – in other words, the more you do, the better. Activity is protective even if you have other risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as high cholesterol,” Antikainen noted.
A previous report in the Journal of the American Medical Association illustrates that those seniors with a faster walking speed were more likely to have a longer survival rate.
To prevent the added pounds from piling up, people often need to walk briskly for an average of 30 minutes, or 60 minutes if they prefer a slower pace.
The study assessed the association between leisure time physical activity and cardiovascular disease risk and mortality in 2,456 men and women aged 65 to 74 years who were enrolled into the National FINRISK Study between 1997 and 2007.
Participants were followed up until the end of 2013.
The researchers classified self-reported physical activity as moderate levels of physical activity as walking, cycling or doing other forms of light exercise (fishing, gardening, hunting) at least four hours a week.
They defined high levels of physical activity as recreational sports (running, jogging, skiing, gymnastics, swimming, ball games or heavy gardening) or intense training or sports competitions at least three hours a week.
During a median follow-up of 11.8 years, 197 participants died from cardiovascular disease and 416 had a first CVD event.
The investigators found that moderate and high leisure time physical activity were associated with a 31 per cent and 45 per cent reduced risk of an acute cardiovascular event respectively.
Moderate and high leisure time physical activity were associated with a 54 per cent and 66 per cent reduction in cardiovascular disease mortality.
The findings were presented at the ESC (European Society of Cardiology) Congress 2016 in Rome.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF WALKING
Walking (as well as any regular exercise) helps you to remain fit. Walking regularly promotes good health in several ways. Consistent exercise builds up endurance and stamina, but it also has less visible results. One of the more long-term effects of regular walking is that it strengthens your immune system. Studies show that walking battles and prevents conditions such as osteoporosis and diabetes. This can be attributed to increased blood flow. The more active you are, the more active and healthy your cells are. This can lessen the risk of low-blood sugar and bone density problems.
The more you walk, the faster you will do so. This increase in speed and performance will be gradual; you may not notice it happening. What is clear is that repeated activity leads to improvement. This means that your body will adapt to be able to do more difficult tasks. Whereas a 10-minute walk may have exhausted you when you started walking, a half hour may not faze you after a few weeks. After more time, you will find that you can go further in that half hour than before. This is not just your muscles being strengthened, but other vital areas as well. The more intense your walking becomes, the more your lungs have to work to maintain proper breathing. One thing to consider while walking or running is that when we become active, we tend to breathe through our mouth. Focus on breathing through your nose to maintain efficient breathing and build up your lungs even more.
By staying active, you help your body move toward your ideal weight. You burn excess fat and calories and build muscle. Remember that a healthy weight is not just about pounds, but also about body fat ratio. Walking will encourage also encourage you to make other healthy choices for your body. If you see some movement toward your ideal weight or body fat ratio, you are likely to work harder to obtain that.
Walking releases endorphins into your system that improve your mood. It also gives you an opportunity to reflect on your day, your life, or any number of things. Your brain needs time to wander and explore. Walking provides this time. For these reasons, walking is shown to combat depression, improve blood pressure, and positively affect your mood. A walk in the morning is recommended to get your brain awake, your blood flowing, and get a calm, collected start to the day.
These aspects of walking show some possible reasons for the correlation to longer life span. The relation to speed could come from the observation that regular participation in walking leads to faster gait speed. Walking is a great introduction to making lifestyle choices that prevent future health problems and combat current ones.