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Walking reduces some risk factors for heart disease in previously inactive adults
Murtagh EM, Nichols L, Mohammed MA, et al. The effect of walking on risk factors for cardiovascular disease: An updated systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised control trials. Prev Med. 2015;72C:34-43.
In previously inactive adults, does walking reduce risk factors for heart disease?
Physical inactivity increases the risk of many illnesses including heart disease and high blood pressure. Walking is a relatively simple way to increase activity levels, particularly in people who may be sedentary, obese, and at high risk of heart disease. By walking, then, inactive adults may be able to reduce their risk of heart disease.
How the review was done
The researchers did a systematic review based on studies available up to June 2012.
They found 31 randomized controlled trials with 1,487 people (30 to 83 years of age).
Key features of the studies were:
- people walked 20 to 60 minutes/day, 2 to 7 days/week, for 8 to 52 weeks;
- walking intensity varied from light to vigorous, and could be self-paced; and
- walking was compared with no exercise.
What the researchers found
Compared with no exercise, walking reduced:
- body fat;
- blood pressure;
- body mass index (BMI); and
- body weight.
Compared with no exercise, walking did not affect total cholesterol levels.
In previously inactive adults, walking reduces some risk factors for heart disease.
Walking vs no exercise in inactive people
3.5% less with walking
Systolic blood pressure
2.9% lower with walking
Diastolic blood pressure
2.0% lower with walking
Body mass index (BMI)
2.0% lower with walking
1.8% less with walking
Total cholesterol level
No difference with walking
The lower number in a blood pressure reading. It is the pressure when the heart rests between beats.
Randomized controlled trials
Studies where people are assigned to one of the treatments purely by chance.
Aspects making a condition more likely.
A comprehensive evaluation of the available research evidence on a particular topic.
The higher number in a blood pressure reading. It is the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats.
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