THURSDAY, Nov. 17, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Thirty minutes of brisk walking each day can really pump up heart health, a new study finds.
The two-year study of 500 sedentary men and women aged 30 to 69 found that walking for 30 minutes a day five or more days a week at either a moderate or hard intensity, or walking at hard intensity three to four times a week, led to significant long-term improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness.
Frequent, fast-paced walking provided the largest fitness benefits as well as moderate, short-term improvements in cholesterol levels, the study found.
"The bottom line is that 30 minutes of walking on five to seven days a week provides substantial health benefits," Steven Blair, of the Cooper Institute, said in an accompanying editorial in the current issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
In a prepared statement, principal investigator Michael Perri, associate dean and a professor of clinical and health psychology at the University of Florida's College of Public Health and Health Professions, noted that, "(U.S.) National Guidelines for exercise are based largely on studies conducted in laboratory settings with close supervision of how much exercise is completed by the study participants."
But he said that in this latest study, "We were very interested in learning about the ways people respond to different exercise prescriptions when they are asked to complete the exercise on their own, in their home or work environments."
Perri's team found that high-frequency or hard-intensity exercise is crucial to achieving significant results.
"When exercising on their own, people generally complete only about 60 percent of the amount prescribed. As a result, an exercise prescription for moderate-intensity walking on three to four days a week may not generate a large enough amount of exercise to produce a change in fitness," Perri said.
The U.S. NIDDK-Weight Control Information Network has more about walking.