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Walk Your Way to a Healthy Heart

When it comes to heart health, walkers and runners may reap the same benefits.

A recent study published in in the American Heart Association journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology found that walkers lowered their risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes as much as runners.

Dr. Sreenivas Gudimetla, cardiologist on the medical staff at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth, said anyone aiming to lose weight or improve heart health didn’t need to get their heart rate so high.

“If your goal is overall cardiovascular health, walking is as good as more vigorous exercise, and it works for several reasons,” he said. “As we get older and aren’t able to do as much vigorous exercise, walking is something we can do consistently and it’s enjoyable.

“If you’re doing aerobic training for a marathon or some strenuous athletic event, obviously you have to exert yourself more vigorously, but you’re not necessarily getting additional cardiovascular benefit.”

You don’t have to “power walk” to reap the benefits, he said. A beneficial rate of exertion should make you feel like you’re working and breaking a sweat, but allow you to complete sentences without stopping to breathe.

His recommendations:

“For most individuals, walk at a moderate pace for 30 minutes to an hour a day as many days as possible. Over a period of time you’ll definitely reap cardiovascular benefits.”

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