In Little League baseball, coaches will often bolster their players’ confidence by letting them know, “A walk is as good as a hit.”
Now, researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Life Science Division in Berkeley, CA are taking a similar approach for adults: A walk is as good as a run. At least when it comes to lowering the incidence of some heart-related conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), and high cholesterol.
Publishing their findings in the American Heart Association journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, Paul T. Williams, PhD, and Paul D. Thompson, MD, analyzed more than 33,000 runners and 15,000 walkers and concluded that walking with moderate intensity can produce the same heart health benefits or more as those realized by people who run for exercise.
The six-year study showed walking was more effective at lowering the risk of the onset of high blood pressure (7.2 percent less risk walking vs. 4.2 percent running), reduced first-time high cholesterol levels (7 percent walking vs. 4.3 percent running), and reduced coronary heart disease more than twice as much than running (9.3 percent lower incidence for walkers vs. 4.5 percent for runners).
The implications are significant because more people can sustain a walking regimen rather than a running routine. And, walking is much easier on the feet, knees, and ankles than the jarring jostling of jogging or running.
So, the next time you think you don’t have what it takes to exercise, think again. A 45-minute to 1-hour walk through your neighborhood, the park, or along the seashore can do you a world of good.