Huffing And Puffing To A Healthier Heart
There’s a lot of health advice out there: drink more of this, eat less of that, only do yoga between the hours of 8.45 and 9pm on Thursdays… how are you supposed to keep up with all of this?! But, new research has been published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, which asks us to do one simple thing: walk faster!
The study’s lead author, professor Emmanuel Stamatakis of the University of Sydney, explains that ‘huffing and puffing’ whilst still being able to have a conversation, is a great indicator that you are keeping up a brisk pace.
“A fast pace is generally five to six kilometres per hour, but it really depends on a walker’s fitness levels; an alternative indicator is to walk at a pace that makes you slightly out of breath or sweaty when sustained,” Professor Stamatakis told The University of Sydney Press.
“While sex and body mass index did not appear to influence outcomes, walking at an average or fast pace was associated with a significantly reduced risk of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease.”
Through this study of more than 50,000 active participants, the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease was said to be reduced by 24% of those walking at an average pace, and 21% walking at a brisk or fast pace, compared to walking at a slow pace. Better still, participants of 60 years and over had their risk drop 46% for average pace walkers, and 53% for brisk or fast paced, compared to their slow counterparts.
It is also important to note that a brisk walk to and from the letterbox each day doesn’t sustain the same results. In terms of amount, what can we aim for at a good target? “10,000 steps per day is an excellent target, especially if at least 3,000-4,000 steps come from brisk or fast walking,” he says.
This research follows a major study by Harvard University, which discovered the top five habits that increase an individual’s lifespan by more than a decade. Factors included not smoking, maintaining a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9, moderate physical activity for an average of 30 minutes daily, limiting alcohol to no more than 15 grams of alcohol per day for women and 30 grams for men, and eating a diet low in red meat, sugars and saturated fats, and high in vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
Read more about the research on The University of Sydney website