High Intensity Walking Improves Blood Pressure

Alternating high- and low-intensity walking may also increase muscle strength

TUESDAY, July 10 (HealthDay News) -- Healthy older adults who incorporate some high intensity into their walking program can significantly improve muscle strength and reduce blood pressure, according to the results of a study published in the July issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Ken-Ichi Nemoto, M.S., of the Shinshu University Graduate School of Medicine in Matsumoto, Japan, and colleagues randomly assigned 60 men and 186 women (mean age 63) to one of three groups: no walking training; moderate-intensity continuous walking training at 50 percent of peak aerobic capacity; and high-intensity interval walking training, which alternated sets at 40 percent of peak aerobic capacity with sets at 70 percent of peak aerobic capacity.

The researchers found that the high-intensity interval walking training group experienced significant increases in isometric knee extension (13 percent), isometric knee flexion (17 percent), peak aerobic capacity for cycling (8 percent) and peak aerobic capacity for walking (9 percent), all of which were significantly greater than those observed in the moderate-intensity continuous walking training group. They also found that the high-intensity interval walking training group had a more significant decrease in resting systolic blood pressure.

"In the short span of 150 years, we have forsaken our legs as a means of locomotion, work and leisure," states the author of an accompanying editorial. "We are designed to walk all day long, and Nemoto's article suggests that we should."

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