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August 30, 2017

Study finds greater risk of heart disease among self-proclaimed slower walkers

Studies Heart Disease
Walking File Art/for PhillyVoice

A brisk walk can be a helpful way to manage blood pressure and curb potential for other conditions, but your pace can also reveal a bit about your future health and potential for heart disease.

In a study from NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre in the UK, research shows that middle-aged people who identify as slower walkers may be at a greater risk for heart disease compared to the general population.

Researchers looked at data from 2006 to 2010 and studied about a half million middle-aged people in the UK who were free from cancer and heart disease at the time of the data gathering.

This year, researchers revisited the data and the participants, finding that 1,654 of the people studied had since died from cardiovascular disease. There was a total of 8,598 deaths in the sample, with 4,850 from cancer.

“Slow walkers were around twice as likely to have a heart-related death compared to brisk walkers,” professor Tom Yates, a reader for the study, said in a statement.

The findings applied to both men and women. The risk did not seem to vary depending on smoking, body mass index or diet.

"We also found that self-reported walking pace was strongly linked to an individual's objectively measured exercise tolerance, further suggesting walking pace is a good measure of overall physical fitness. Therefore, self-reported walking pace could be used to identify individuals who have low physical fitness and high mortality risk that would benefit from targeted physical exercise interventions."

The study was published in the European Heart Journal.

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