Yesterday was National Start Walking Day. Sponsored by the American Heart Association, the day was meant to raise awareness that if you make a few simple changes, you can live a longer and healthier life.
Something as simple as walking can do you a world of good. This is being backed by new evidence that even just a modest amount of walking can have lasting health benefits. New research has found that women who walk two or more hours a week, or walk at a brisk pace, can significantly reduce their risk of suffering a stroke.
Stroke is a bit of an underrated health threat. It is the third leading cause of death in the U.S., only behind heart disease and cancer. A stroke, or cerebrovascular accident (CVA), occurs when the blood supply to the brain is disrupted, which causes brain cells to die.
Previously, research showed that people who exercise regularly generally have a lower risk of stroke than those who are more sedentary.
“Physical activity, including regular walking, is an important modifiable behavior for stroke prevention,” says Jacob R. Sattelmair, MSc, of the Harvard School of Public Health. “Physical activity is essential to promoting cardiovascular health and reducing risk of cardiovascular disease, and walking is one way of achieving physical activity.”
The study examined the exercising habits of 39,315 female health professionals. Their average age was 54, and the groups either walked briskly or walked normally. What the researcher found out was:
- The women who walked at a pace of three miles an hour or faster had a 37 percent lower risk of suffering a stroke.
- The women who walked two or more hours a week had a 30 percent reduced risk of stroke.
What these findings say to me is, whether you walk fast or just walk normally, you just need to get out and move most days of the week, and you will see significant health benefits.