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Study: Faster walking pace lowers heart failure risk in post-menopausal women

Study: Faster walking pace lowers heart failure risk in post-menopausal women
Older women can lower their risk for heart failure by walking faster, a new study has found. Photo by DanielReche/Pixabay

Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Post-menopausal women who reported a faster walking pace had a lower risk for developing heart failure, a study published Thursday by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found.

Among more than 25,000 women ages 50 to 79 followed for a 17-year period, 1,455 were hospitalized for heart failure, the data showed.

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Compared with women who walked at a casual pace of less than 2 miles per hour, those who walked at an average pace -- 2 to 3 miles per hour -- had a 27% lower risk for heart failure, the researchers said.

Women who walked at a fast pace, or greater than 3 miles per hour, had a 34% lower risk for heart failure.

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In addition, fast walking for less than one hour per week was associated with the same lower risk for heart failure as average or casual walking for more than two hours per week, they said.

"This study confirms other studies demonstrating the importance of walking speed on mortality and other cardiovascular outcomes," study co-author Dr. Charles B. Eaton said in a press release

"Walking faster but for less time might provide similar health benefits as the recommended 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity," said Eaton, a professor of family medicine at Brown University in Providence, R.I.

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Similar studies have demonstrated the heart health benefits of light exercise for older adults, particularly women.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults engage in 150 minutes of moderate exercise, including walking, weekly.

For this study, Eaton and his colleagues tracked 25,183 women ages 50 to 79 over a roughly 17-year period.

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In addition to monitoring participants' heart health, the researchers assessed walking pace using a questionnaire that asked about the frequency of walks outside the home for more than 10 minutes without stopping, the average duration of each walk and the usual walking pace.

"Given that limited time for exercise is frequently given as a barrier to regular physical activity," walking may be a more practical alternative, Eaton said.

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