Older Adults Get Significant Cardiovascular Benefits from Walking Faster or Longer

older adults benefit from walking faster longer

Regular exercise is an important part of everyday life, this includes the time from childhood all the way till we get older.

A new study conducted by researchers at Tufts University shows that exercise duration as well as intensity makes a big difference with regards to their effects on our cardiovascular health as we get older.

The team set out to learn whether or not walking for longer durations, and/or walking faster makes a difference when it comes to lowering risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

The study focused on men and women who were in their 70’s, where the participants had a mean age of 73. None of the participants had any cardiovascular disease during the start of the study.

The 10 year follow up based on data gathered from 1989 to 1999 found that:

  • Individuals who engaged in more physical activity had lower risk of heart disease and stroke in the future compared to those who weren’t active.
  • It also found that walking faster, specifically at a pace that’s greater than 3 miles per hour (mph) lowered risk of CVD by 50%, stroke by 53% and coronary heart disease by 50%, compared to walking at a pace of under 2 miles per hour (mph).
  • Also walking distance mattered. Those who walked 7 blocks daily on average also experienced a lower risk of CVD (-47%), stroke (-54%) and coronary heart disease (-36%), when compared to study participants who average 5 blocks each week or less.
  • Physically active hobbies also help. If you’re not a fan of structured exercise programs like walking or running, try picking up a hobby or leisure activity that keeps you active. Participants who engaged in hobbies and activities like biking, hiking, gardening, and lawn mowing also benefit of reduced risk of CVD, stroke and coronary heart disease, when compared to those who didn’t.

The results show that even through our 70’s, the value of exercise, including the intensity at which it is performed and duration matters. The significant heart health benefits makes it important to be consistent in engaging in regular physical activity, whether it’s through a structured workout program or one that’s based on hobbies or leisure activities.


Prevalence of Lack of Regular Exercise

The World Health Organization (WHO), recommends that:

  • Children & teens between the ages of 5 to 17 years old
    Are advised to engage in moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity for at least 1 hour each day.
  • Adults (18 years of age and above)
    Are recommended to spend at least 2.5 hours each week of moderate intensity physical activity, or
    If you prefer shorter, higher intensity sessions, 75 minutes of weekly vigorous physical activity.

Unfortunately, more and more people aren’t meeting these requirements.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that less than half of the adult population, around 49%, met the guidelines set forth for physical activity.

The figure also drops during the winter months since people spend more time indoors and often don’t have an alternative workout plan.