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Regular Walking Linked to Slower PAD Functional Decline

Results suggest walking program may benefit those with peripheral arterial disease

TUESDAY, Jan. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Among people with peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a self-directed walking program at least three times a week is associated with significantly less functional decline in the subsequent year, according to a study in the Jan. 3 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Mary M. McDermott, M.D., of Northwestern University in Chicago, and colleagues followed 417 men and women with PAD who reported varied amounts of self-initiated weekly walking exercise.

In a median follow-up of 36 months, patients who walked three or more times per week had a slower decline in walking velocity and walking distance based on a six-minute walk test than those who walked infrequently, or not at all.

The authors caution that because theirs is a small observational study, a causal relationship cannot be drawn between exercise and PAD outcome. While guidelines for PAD recommend supervised walking, the authors point out that barriers to walking often include cost, transportation and program availability.

"These findings may be particularly important for the numerous patients with PAD who do not have access to supervised walking exercise programs," they write.

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