There are many benefits that can come from going on walks or light strolls throughout your neighborhood. Going for a walk is a great way to de-stress and brighten your mood, but more importantly, a walk has the power to save your life.
According to new research presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 67th Annual Scientific Session, walking for just 40 minutes several times a week reduces the risk of heart failure in post-menopausal women by 25 percent.
The comprehensive study, which analyzed the correlation between walking and cardiovascular health among 89,000 women over age 50 over more than a decade, found that the benefits of walking were consistent regardless of a woman’s weight or other methods of exercise. Walking alone is considered to be enough; power walking is not necessary. Moving at an average pace is enough to reap all the benefits.
“We actually looked at women with four different categories of body mass index (BMI) and found the same inverse relationship between walking behavior and the risk of heart failure,” said Somwail Rasla, MD, a cardiology fellow at Saint Vincent Hospital in an ACC newsletter. “The results show that even obese and overweight women can still benefit from walking to decrease their risk of heart failure.”
“We already know that physical activity lowers the risk of heart failure, but there may be a misconception that simply walking isn’t enough,” Rasla mentioned. “Our analysis shows walking is not only an accessible form of exercise but almost equal to all different types of exercise that have been studied before in terms of lowering heart failure risk. Essentially, we can reach a comparable energetic expenditure through walking that we gain from other types of physical activity.”
While cardiovascular disease is typically focused on men, these findings are particularly important, as the medical community is spreading awareness of the dangers of heart failure in women. On February 2, the American Heart Association asked people to wear red in order to help spread awareness of heart disease in women.
In America, heart disease is considered to be the number one killer among women, as it claims the lives of approximately 500,000 women each year. Yet, studies have shown that only around half of women are aware of its dangers. The research also demonstrated that women between 75 and 84 years of age are three times as likely to have heart failure compared with women 65-74 years old. Another recent study found that longer, less strenuous workouts are more effective in prolonging longevity than high-intensity cardio.Related: Benefits of Walking at Least 30 Minutes Per Day
If you’re debating whether or not to get a gym membership, and fear that high prices and little time will keep you from going, try going for a half an hour walk outside every day to significantly improve and elongate your life.