A leisurely walk is often relaxing and clears the mind. However, you might want to pick up the pace to gain health benefits, according to a new study published earlier this month in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. 

Researchers from the University of Sydney School of Medicine in Austria found that people who reported walking fast and average speed had about a 20 percent lower overall risk of death compared with slow-walkers, and a similar drop in the risk of dying from heart disease. In-fact, of the 3,617 people who died over the nine-year study, 1,000 of them died from heart disease.

Why Fast-Walking Works

“We’ve known for some time that walking at a brisk pace challenges your cardiovascular system in a good way by raising your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate,” said Lauren Conley, MS, a clinical exercise physiologist. “This study confirms what we already knew, which is that in order to improve our fitness level, we must continually challenge our cardiovascular and muscular systems.”

New to walking? Don’t fret! Conley adds that by gradually increasing your walking pace, you can improve your fitness level, which in-turn helps decrease your for heart disease, stroke and other conditions.

Walk Your Way to Heart Health

Try Conley’s tips to walk your way to better heart health.

  • Exercise regularly. Aim for walking at least three days per week for at least 30 minutes per session.
  • Gradually build. Try walking for 30-60 minutes continually at a pace that’s comfortable for you and gradually building the intensity and/or distance you walk over time. You can time yourself or try a free fitness app on your mobile device to track your walks!
  • Set at schedule. Pick a time to walk and add it to your calendar to help you stick to it.
  • Gather a group. Walk with coworkers, friends or family to help keep you accountable.
  • See your doctor.  If haven’t been physically active in a while, you may want to consult your primary care doctor before starting a new exercise regimen.

Exercise is an important way to keep your heart in shape!

Lauren Conley

Lauren Conley

Clinical Exercise Physiologist

Lauren a clinical exercise physiologist with the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at Adventist HealthCare Washington Adventist Hospital.

Do you exercise enough to stay heart healthy? Find out with our fast & free heart risk assessment.