A team of researchers at Tufts University, in the US have found that walking longer or faster can have cardiovascular health benefits for older adults, even for those over the age of 75.
The team, led by senior author Dariush Mozaffarian, looked at a large group of 3,941 men and women over a 10-year period, noting participants' exercise habits including walking distance and walking pace, as well as other leisure activities such as mowing the lawn, gardening, swimming, biking, and hiking. The mean age of the group was 73 at the start.
Taking into account other health risk factors in the group and participants' lifestyle behaviours, the team concluded that those seniors who walked faster than 4.8kmph had a 50% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 53% lower risk of stroke than those that walked at pace of less than 3.2kmph.
Meanwhile those that walked an average of seven blocks a day showed a 47% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, compared to those walking up to five blocks a week. Taking part in various leisure activities like gardening and swimming was also shown to be beneficial for lowering participants' risk of coronary heart disease.
First author Luisa Soares-Miranda outlined, "It appears that whether one increases the total distance or the pace of walking, CVD risk is lowered.
Fortunately, walking is an activity that many older adults can enjoy."
Mozaffarian emphasised that "These results are especially relevant because, with advancing age, the ability to perform vigorous types of activity often decreases. Our findings support the importance of continuing light to moderate exercise to improve health across the lifespan."
A 2011 Australian study also found that a minimum walking speed of 4.8kmph was beneficial for health in later life.
Researchers looked at a group of 1,705 men, all aged 70 or older, and assessed their walking speeds and survival rate over a five-year period.
The study found that those in the group who walked at a minimum speed of 4.8kmph lived longer than those who walked with at a pace of 3.2kmph. – AFP Relaxnews