A new study suggests that improving your walking speed while commuting to work and exercising can significantly reduce risks of cardiovascular death.
Walking with a higher degree of speed and endurance increases the metabolism and can maximise the cardiovascular benefit for people with type 2 diabetes.
Researchers at the University of Leicester conducted research where they’ve compared middle-aged adults who were slow walkers or fast walkers during the study period.
The findings, recently published in the European Heart Journal, show that people in the slow walking group were about twice as likely to die from heart disease compared to those power walking.
In addition to that, they’ve found that a low body mass index (BMI) further increased the odds of heart disease, a risk factor that researchers associated with sarcopenia – high levels of muscle tissue loss with age.
The research accounted for cofounding factors like exercise habits, diets, and people who smoked or drank alcohol on a regular basis.
Even in presence of one or more of these co-factors, the findings held true and the walking pace was still an important predictor of heart disease-related death.
Unsurprisingly perhaps, slow walkers tended to have lower fitness levels, which according to researchers largely explains their higher risk of heart disease death.
The study team analysed data collected by the UK Biobank between 2006 and 2010 on about half a million middle-aged adults living in the UK.
At the start of the study, over 420,000 individuals were free from cancer and heart disease. After the six-year follow-up, there were 8,598 deaths.
An estimated 1,654 died from heart disease and 4,850 from cancer. However, no similar links were found between walking speed and cancer-related deaths.
Previous research has found that overweight people who engaged in moderate walking for only 12 weeks significantly improved a vast array of biomarkers for cardiovascular disease risk, such as body weight and the insulin resistance index (HOMA-IR).
The body recomposition effect, in some cases, was more powerful than through dieting alone and had an especially beneficial impact on fat mass reduction.
Walking has also been found to improve separate cardiac risk factors, including cholesterol, blood pressure, type 2 diabetes markers, obesity, vascular stiffness and inflammation, among other things.
Overall, this new study suggests that increases in non-exercise physical activity can be beneficial to middle-aged adults looking to consistently improve their cardiovascular health throughout their life.

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