‘Sit less, walk more,’ advise heart researchers

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TWO studies involving postmenopausal females found that sedentary behavior increased their risk of developing heart failure and that walking lowered their risk of high blood pressure.
For people spending more time at home as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the new research provides an impetus to go for more walks and avoid sitting too long in front of computer or television screens.
In the two studies, which the University at Buffalo (UB), NY, led, researchers found that postmenopausal females who went for brisk walks and spent less time sitting or lying down during their waking hours had a lower risk of hypertension and heart failure, respectively.
“Walking and moving are simple activities that can be easily integrated into our daily lives,” says Jean Wactawksi-Wende, Ph.D., dean of UB’s School of Public Health and Health Professions (SPHHP) and a co-author of both studies.
The research drew upon data collected over several years from females who took part in the Women’s Health Initiative. The participants were 50–79 years of age at the start of the studies.
The results suggest that regardless of overall levels of physical activity, walking more and being less sedentary can benefit cardiovascular health.
“Sit less, walk more for heart health,” advises Michael LaMonte, Ph.D., research associate professor of epidemiology at the SPHHP.
LaMonte was the senior author on the paper that linked walking to a reduced risk of hypertension and first author on the paper that found an association between sedentary behavior and an increased risk of heart failure.
WALKING AND HYPERTENSION
The walking research followed 83,435 females who did not have a diagnosis of hypertension, heart failure, coronary heart disease, or stroke at the start of the study.
All of the participants reported that they could walk at least one block without assistance.
During the average follow-up period of 11 years, 38,230 participants received a diagnosis of hypertension.
After adjusting for other possible contributing factors, including other types of physical exercise, the participants who walked the most were 11% less likely to develop hypertension than those who walked the least. Participants who were among the fastest walkers had a 21% lower risk of hypertension compared with those who walked the slowest.
Even after adjusting the figures to account for the overall amount of time that each participant spent walking and the distance they covered.

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